Alabama (29-24,11-16 SEC) entered the home half of the regular season in desperate need of wins, and head coach Mitch Gaspard responded accordingly. A 5-3 victory over Mercer on Tuesday night extended the Tide's winning streak to six games. Alabama must now try to continue that streak against the defending national champions in the final SEC series of the regular season.

Vanderbilt (37-16,18-9 SEC) will enter the series fresh off a 5-2 win over No. 2 Louisville and hope to gain even more momentum leading into the SEC and NCAA tournaments. The Commodores are one of the most complete teams in college baseball, but (just like in last year's College World Series) their strength continues to be in the bullpen.

Opponents are batting just .220 against Vanderbilt pitchers. The staff's 522 strikeouts is 78 more than the next closest SEC team, and they also carry the 2nd best team ERA (3.01) among SEC teams.

The Commodores' probable starters for the weekend are RHP Carson Fulmer (10-1, 1.56 ERA, 118 SO, 33 BB), LHP Phillip Pheifer (3-4, 4.35 ERA, 76 SO, 33 BB), and RHP Walker Buehler (3-1, 3.14 ERA, 66 SO, 19 BB).

Fulmer was named SEC Pitcher of the Week after pitching a complete game shutout over Florida in his last start. One could argue that Fulmer is the best pitcher in the country seeing that he has the best ERA in the conference and 34 more strikeouts than the next closest SEC pitcher. Pheifer, meanwhile, has losses each of his last two starts. Buehler's one and only loss was on April 17th against South Carolina.

Vanderbilt's pitching staff is a thing of beauty, but they are equally impressive at the plate. They rank in the top three in multiple SEC batting statistics including hits (544), doubles (112), triples (20), and home runs (48). Shortstop Dansby Swanson has 71 hits, 17 doubles, and 59 runs scored on the year. First baseman Zander Wiel, right fielder Rhett Wiseman, and Swanson have 32 home runs combined this season.

In order to compete with Vanderbilt you must handle their lineup and match them in a pitcher's duel, which Alabama proved it could do in last weekend's sweep over Auburn.

The Tide's probable starting pitchers are LHP Taylor Guilbeau (2-5, 3.73 ERA, 72 SO, 38 BB), RHP Jake Walters (4-3, 2.17 ERA, 55 SO, 24 BB), and RHP Geoffrey Bramblett (7-3, 4.18 ERA, 58 SO, 25 BB). Guilbeau is coming off one of his best outings of the year after only allowing two runs on seven hits against Auburn. Walters only allowed two hits through 5.0 innings before giving up three runs in the sixth inning. Bramblett picked up his seventh win of the year after only allowing four hits on Sunday.

Alabama's lineup will need to take advantage of every opportunity against the Commodores. It is unlikely that the Tide will mach the 43 hits and 25 runs it had against Auburn. However, that performance is hopefully a sign of what the future holds. Casey Hughston leads the team with 71 hits, but Mikey White has 67 hits of his own. Will Haynie is currently riding a five game hitting streak. He has seven hits, two home runs, and five RBIs across those five games.

Alabama leads the all-time series 88-52-2 over Vanderbilt. Thursday and Friday's games are scheduled to begin at 7:00 pm CT. Saturday's finale will begin at 3:30 pm CT.

Click here to see what head coach Mitch Gaspard and pitcher Taylor Guilbeau had to say about this weekend's series.

More From Tide 100.9