Kentucky continues their long road trip this weekend against Vanderbilt in Nashville. The BatCats have won four of their last five and are moving back into the hosting picture. The Commodores are in the exact opposite position. Vanderbilt was a top ten team prior to the season, but have since fallen on hard times. After looking like a title contender in February and March, VU has hovered around .500 in conference play and are on the bubble for the NCAA Tournament. The Dores will always be a dangerous team with Tim Corbin at the helm. Before you head to Hawkins Field tonight, here are five names to know for the Black and Gold. (All photos courtesy of Vanderbilt Athletics)
Austin Martin, Infielder: The Vandy offense is near the bottom in most hitting categories right now. One of the only bright spots has been Martin. The freshman infielder is the only Commodore hitting above .300 this season (minimum 100 at-bats). Martin has been a pleasant surprise in a disappointing season for Vanderbilt. The former Team USA shortstop leads the team in average, hits, on-base percentage, and stolen bases.
Pat DeMarco, Outfielder: This year’s Vanderbilt team is lead by a strong group of freshman. DeMarco, a freshman from New York, is third on the team in home runs and fourth in average. Tim Corbin’s group has had to rely on underclassmen this year more than ever (They are one of two D1 teams to start six true freshmen in a game) DeMarco and Martin have been two guys that have risen to the challenge.
Patrick Raby, Pitcher: Corbin seems to clone stud pitchers in a lab before every season. The Dores have seen David Price, Carson Fulmer, Walker Buehler, and Tyler Beede come through their doors over the last decade. Raby was supposed to be the latest pitcher to lead the Dores’ staff. Another Team USA alumni, Raby has not been at the same level as last year. Teams are hitting .265 against Vandy’s Saturday starter. Raby is a very talented pitcher, but he has seen some struggles this season.
Drake Fellows, Pitcher: Fellows took over the Friday night role with Raby . The sophomore righty leads the team in strikeouts with 88 in 77.2 innings. Fellows is another guy that has struggled to keep guys off base. In 13 starts, Fellows has allowed 31 walks, seven hit by pitches, and 62 hits. Fellow’s high number of walks is the main reason his ERA is north of four at this point. He is vulnerable if UK’s offense gets guys on base.
Julian Infante, First Baseman: Okay, what happened here? Infante was a Preseason All-American prior to this year after hitting .315 with 11 home runs and 66 RBIs in 2017. Fast forward to 2018 where the Dores’ first baseman has hit .163 with one home run and 15 RBIs in 40 games. There has been something off with Infante all year. Knowing UK’s luck, he will get hot this weekend.
The series begins tonight at 7:30 ET. Game one will be available on SECN+ and on 630 WLAP.