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Vanderbilt Heads to Louisville to Bring Back What Is Rightfully Ours

The 8th Annual Battle of the Barrel—tonight at 6pm CT on ESPNU.

Hare Pie Scramble And Bottle Kicking Traditional Easter Monday Celebration
Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Since 2012, Vanderbilt and Louisville have met once during the season for a midweek cross-conference rivalry game known as The Battle of the Barrel. Louisville has the all time lead at 4 game to 3, so tonight’s game gives us the opportunity to even things up.

More than that, this is yet another chance to test our mettle, as Louisville is the #6 team in the nation.


On the Mound

For Vanderbilt:

So. RHP Mason Hickman (6-0, 2.05 ERA)

Hickman has been filthy all year, and is reprising Walker Buehler’s 2014 role of midweek starter who would be starting on Fridays for most teams. In addition to his unblemished record and sparkling ERA, Hickman has been at his best with RISP, as his WHIP of 0.95 is just a hair under Tyler Brown’s (0.93) for 2nd on the team. In addition to that, he has a closer-esque 11.68 K/9 and 2.05 BB/9.

I like to think Corbs has kept Hickman in this role all year precisely to bring back the barrel.

For Louisville:

Louisville does not have the luxury of a set 4 man rotation like we do, so this will require a bit of sleuthing. Detmers, Miller, and Albanese started the three weekend games (a sweep of Notre Dame), and Hoeing (3 & 2/3 IP), Elliott (1 & 2/3 IP), and Smiddy (2/3 IP) pitched Sunday in relief. By process of elimination, that makes it highly likely we will face Fr. RHP Jack Perkins (3-0, 3.20 ERA) tonight.

Indeed, Perkins is pictured on UL’s promotional tweet for tonight’s game, so it’s safe to assume he will get the ball:

Of course, Louisville’s big lefty Nick Bennett was not given the ball against Notre Dame, so barring injury (a quick google search turns up nothing, but he has started 11 games this year, and has a respectable 4.15 ERA), he could see innings tonight, as well.

At the Plate

As a team, Louisville has a respectable .298/.399/.446 triple slash with 37 long balls and 7.92 runs per game, but this team is built for speed. They have swiped 88 bags in 111 attempts on the year. For comparison’s sake, we’re 54-71 in steals, and have slashed .321/.420/.525 with 66 Dingers and 8.62 runs per game.

In short, this is a matchup of power versus speed.

As mid-week games come, they don’t get much better than this.

See you in the comments.