Baseball welcomes No. 1 Vanderbilt for weekend series

Freshman pitcher Kyle Cody lets his fastball fly. He gave up 3 runs to the WKU Hilltoppers during the top half of the first inning. in Lexington, Ky., on Tuesday, March, 19, 2013. Photo by James Holt | Staff

By Tom Hurley | @TomHurleyKernel

UK baseball (28-19, 10-14 SEC) hosts No. 1 Vanderbilt for a three-game series starting on Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

One of the keys for that Cats to ensure victory over the top-ranked Commodores may be preventing junior infielder Tony Kemp from reaching base.

Vandy is 27-3 this season when the week 11 SEC player of the week reaches base multiple times.

Kemp is batting .391 on the season and holds a .49 on-base percentage. His five doubles, 72 hits and 29 walks leads the Commodores in all categories.

It is not just Kemp that the Cats will need to watch out for, Vandy leads the SEC in swiped bags with  106 stolen bases on the season.

The middle of the Vanderbilt line-up also features sophomore infielder Vince Conde’s six home runs and  senior outfielder Connor Harrell’s eight homers.

Vanderbilt (42-6, 21-2 SEC) will start junior left-handed pitcher Kevin Ziomek (9-2, 2.03 ERA)  on Friday, sophomore right-handed pitcher Tyler Beede (12-0, 1.73 ERA) on Saturday and junior right-handed pitcher T.J. Pecoraro (3-1, 3.38 ERA) on Sunday.

Vandy’s pitching has held opposing teams to three runs of less on 35 occasions in 2013 with the Commodores holding a 34-1 record in those games.

For the Cats, sophomore left-handed pitcher A.J. Reed (2-6, 2.84 ERA) will go Friday, freshman right-handed pitcher Kyle Cody (3-2, 4.86 ERA) on Saturday, with junior left0handed pitcher Corey Littrell starting Sunday’s series finale.

Reed is scheduled to throw the first pitch of Friday’s game at 6:30 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Saturday’s 7 p.m. game will be broadcast on CSS. Fox Sports South will provide live coverage of Sunday’s 1 p.m. series closer.