Posted: 9:54 p.m. Monday, June 3, 2013
By Christian D'Andrea
After a 5-0 loss to Georgia Tech put Vanderbilt one loss from elimination in the NCAA Tournament, fans had concerns over whether or not this team's bats would wake up in time. After beating the Yellow Jackets X-X on Monday, it turned out that distress was unnecessary.
Vanderbilt got to a tired Buck Farmer early and strung together 13 hits to eliminate Tech from the NCAA Tournament and advance to Super Regional action next week against Louisville. Pitchers Philip Pfeifer and Brian Miller combined to hold the Yellow Jackets without an earned run and proved to be the 'Dores backbone in a clutch postseason performance.
Vanderbilt got on the board early, erasing a nine-inning scoreless streak that came under the watch of Tech pitcher Josh Heddinger. Heddinger, who came into Sunday's matchup with a 5.75 ERA, dazzled the 'Dores in a complete game, two-hit performance.
Vandy faced a tougher matchup witch Yellow Jacket ace Buck Farmer on the mound Monday, but the home favorite touched up Farmer with runs in the first and second innings to give this team some much needed confidence. The 'Dores only got stronger from there, rallying behind strong pitching performances from Pfeifer and Miller to add runs in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to essentially put this one away.
Miller finished out the game with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out, and the Diamond 'Dores celebrated a Nashville Regional victory in front of a sellout crowd filled with fans that had been vocal through all four Commodore games.
With the win, Vanderbilt set up a matchup with a familiar foe. The Commodores will take on Louisville in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last five years. This year, the stakes will be higher than ever and the winner will punch their ticket to Omaha for the College World Series. The two teams are tied 1-1 in the postseason, with Louisville defeating the 'Dores to advance to a Super Regional in 2009 and Vandy returning the favor in 2010. As a result, the Commodore/Cardinal rivalry has quickly developed into one of the most compelling in the NCAA.
Action in the Nashville Super Regional will kick off next Friday. Vanderbilt starters Kevin Ziomek and Tyler Beede are expected to take the hill in the first two games against the 12th-ranked Cardinals.