After losing two-of-three games Friday and Saturday to Belmont at Shelby Park the Bisons are back on the road again, this time making the short drive to Vanderbilt’s Hawkins Field for a 6 p.m. game Tuesday.
Vanderbilt leads the overall series 44-10, including wins in the last four games in the series.
“We just always look forward to playing those Southeastern Conference teams that make us better in the long run,” Bisons coach Jeff Forehand said. “Playing Vandy is a tough game to back with. But it should be a good atmosphere.”
The Bisons, 6-13, will send junior right-hander Chad Fromm (1-2, 4.24 earned run average) to the mound. This will be the first start of the season for Fromm. He has made eight appearances in relief and has two saves.
“Chad is going to start because he hasn’t gotten the innings that we need him to get,” Forehand said. “Hopefully, he will give us a boost starting the game. And then we will fill in with the bullpen with some guys that need to get some work.
“Right now Chad is not throwing strikes consistently. Against Belmont he had three walks in one inning. He has his velocity, but he is not competing in the strike zone. He is more than capable of doing it. Hopefully, he will get himself out of that against Vanderbilt.”
Vanderbilt, 16-4 overall, will counter with junior right-hander Chase Reid (2-1, 1.74 ERA).
The Bisons have scored double figures in runs in five of their last six games. The Bisons have also lost five of their last six games. Friday they beat Belmont 12-3. Saturday they lost game one 8-3 and 12-10.
Vanderbilt beat Alabama Sunday 5-4, their only win in the three-game SEC series.
“We had a great game on Friday against Belmont,” Forehand said. “We came back and just didn’t get it done. In the second game on Saturday we were off to a good start. If we can put up 10 runs like we did in the second game on Saturday we should be in good shape.”
Forehand stresses that he hasn’t been concerned about the offense for a couple of weeks. Pitching and defensive lapses are at the top of his list of concerns.
“I think we are scoring,” Forehand said. “We just need to slow some guys down. And we made some mistakes that cost us in the second game.
“Defense has been solid, but we have had some mental breakdowns. When we were up 10-6 against Belmont we had a walk and an error that let them swing back to the top of the lineup. Belmont’s top of the lineup is good and they were able to get four runs. That is the inning that changed the game.”
Forehand complimented the work of pitchers Alex Ross, Matt Bowling and Mike Grace.
M.L. Williams has the longest hitting streak for the Bisons after a slow start to the season. He enters the Vanderbilt game with hits in his last 11 games.
“M.L. has his average back up to a respectable point,” Forehand said. “We knew all long that the slow start couldn’t last. He is too good a player.
“Sometimes his speed gets him hits that help his average go up. He is coming around and hitting the ball hard. He is getting on base and causing some problems for the defense.”
T.J. Hoelzer is expected to return as the designated hitter against Vanderbilt. He has played three games and has six hits and seven runs batted in. One of his hits is a home run. He has produced multiple hits and multiple RBI in two of his games.
“T.J. is hot right now,” Forehand said. “He will keep getting his shot to play as long as he is swing the bat like this.”
By Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.