After a heartbreaking 5-4, 11th-inning defeat to #2 LSU in the SEC Championship Game in Hoover, Ala. over the weekend, the Vanderbilt Baseball team drew the #2 national seed for the NCAA Baseball Championship. This entitles the 51-9 Commodores to host one of 16 four-team double-elimination regionals beginning this Friday at Hawkins Field, as well as a Super Regional set for next weekend should Vanderbilt advance.
Joining Vanderbilt in the Nashville Regional are Georgia Tech, Illinois, and East Tennessee State. All but ‘game one’ of the regional, Georgia Tech vs. Illinois Friday afternoon is scheduled to be televised on ESPNU including—every Vanderbilt game. VU opens with ETSU at 6 pm Friday.
Vanderbilt won the regular season SEC title with a record 26 league wins. In the tournament they went 3-2. After a shocking 5-0 loss on Wednesday to Texas A&M, Vandy faced South Carolina in an elimination game Thursday afternoon. Conrad Gregor’s single scored Tony Kemp with the winning run in a 4-3, 10-inning victory. Vandy then avenged the earlier loss to A&M, beating the Aggies 3-0 behind Tyler Beede’s masterpiece on Friday.
Saturday was the highest scoring game of a markedly low-scoring tournament as the Commodores defeated Mississippi State 16-8. Vandy scored seven in the top of the second and never looked back gaining a level of revenge for last season’s loss to State in the championship game. The victory propelled VU into this year’s title game, their third straight and seventh overall under Tim Corbin. The matchup was the one everyone hoped for: #1 Vanderbilt and #2 LSU. It did not disappoint—unless you were supporting the Black and Gold, who fell for the third year in a row in the championship game.
Monday, Vanderbilt was awarded the #2 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, the top eight seeds are guaranteed to host all the way to the College World Series if they keep winning. North Carolina, #1 for most of the year, won the ACC Championship and gained the #1 overall seed. Should the seeds hold up, Vandy would meet Louisville in the Super Regional then be grouped with #3 Oregon State, #6 Virginia, and #7 Florida State at the CWS in Omaha. Carolina would be with #4 LSU, #5 Cal State-Fullerton, and #8 Oregon.
Tuesday, the SEC awards were handed out and there were some surprises. Tony Kemp was chosen as Player of the Year and Tim Corbin as Coach of the Year; however, Tyler Beede was not named to the first-team, and neither Kevin Ziomek or Brian Miller was named at all. All this pitching trio did was go 29-4 with 15 saves between them, Ziomek and Beede the top two starters and Miller the closer.
Nashville Regional play begins on Friday at 1 pm as Georgia Tech (34-25) takes on Illinois (34-18). At 6 pm, Vandy battles ETSU (36-22). The loser’s bracket game will be at 2 pm, and the winner’s bracket at 7 pm on Saturday. The elimination final Sunday is set for 2 pm, with the championship round at 7 pm Sunday. Game 7 is Monday at 6 pm, if necessary.