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Tennessee Baseball’s Series At Kentucky Pits Different Styles Against Each Other

Photo By Grayson Belanger/Auburn Tigers

No. 4 Tennessee (31-6, 10-5 SEC) heads to Lexington this weekend to face No. 3 Kentucky (31-5, 14-1 SEC) this weekend in a pivotal conference series.

The Wildcats enter the weekend in the top spot in the SEC while Tennessee is in fourth place in the conference and has won five straight conference games after a 5-5 start to SEC play.

It’s two of the top teams in the conference and also two teams that each have offenses ranked in the top 25 nationally. While both Kentucky and Tennessee boast strong offenses, they do it in vastly different ways.

The Vols rank first nationally with 101 home runs this season. Kentucky has hit just 51 home runs, a mark that ranks 60th nationally.

Tennessee has five players with double-digit home runs this season and seven players with over five home runs. Kentucky has just one player with double-digit home runs and two players with over five home runs. In fact, the Vols have two players (Christian Moore and Dylan Dreiling) that have more home runs in 15 SEC games than Kentucky’s second leading home run man (Ryan Waldschmidt).

But while Kentucky doesn’t have an abundance of power hitting they are a strong contact hitting and play small ball at an incredibly high level.

“Whether it’s bunting or just finding their way on base or just stealing bases,” Tennessee coach Tony Vitello said on Wednesday. “That’s what we saw last year. A complete offense.”

More From RTI: What Tennessee HC Tony Vitello Said Before The Kentucky Series

Kentucky leads the SEC with 79 stolen bases on 99 attempts. Compare that to Tennessee who has stolen 24 bases on 34 attempts this season. The Wildcats have three players with 13-plus stolen bases while Dean Curley leads the Vols with five stolen bases this season.

The conflicting styles of plays is where Kentucky could have a home field advantage this weekend. Tennessee has been good on the road this season and won’t be intimidated by the environment.

But even Vitello admitted on Wednesday that Kentucky Proud Park is a pitcher friendly park and that is a disadvantage for the power hitting Vols. The weather forecast doesn’t play to Tennessee’s advantage either.

The weekend forecast for Lexington projects rain on Friday and Sunday. The high is in the mid 60s on Friday and Saturday and in the mid 50s on Sunday. It’s not the worst weather in the world but is also cold for late April.

First pitch for the weekend series between Tennessee and Kentucky is at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday night. The SEC Network+ is streaming the game.

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