NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tyler Beede feels rested and ready for the NCAA tournament, and the Vanderbilt Commodores will need the junior right-hander at his best along with the rest of their pitching staff to take advantage of being at home.
"I'm excited to take the ball and kind of set the tone for us," Beede said Thursday.
Clemson (36-23) opens the regional against Oregon (42-18) on Friday. Vanderbilt (41-18), hosting a regional for the third time in four years, takes on Xavier (29-27). Commodores coach Tim Corbin could eventually face Clemson coach Jack Leggett, who gave him his first Division I job.
The Commodores certainly hope the 6-foot-4 Beede is ready.
Beede was a Golden Spikes Award finalist last year who went 14-1 to set a school record and tie for the NCAA lead in wins. Beede helped Vanderbilt match a school record with 54 victories last year, though the Commodores' season ended in a super regional.
This year, Beede (BEE-dee) won his first four starts, including wins over Long Beach State and Stanford. But he pitches Friday night against Xavier with a 7-7 record having lost four of his last seven starts with one no decision. Beede says he's learned from all his experiences these past two seasons.
"Certainly more ups and downs than last year, but that's just part of baseball," Beede said. "I think at this point in the season for all of us it's good to put all of that behind us, records and stats, and kind of reset and kind of have a new season under our belt and get ready for that. We're all excited to play our best baseball now at the most important time."
Beede's struggles this season could drop him out of the first round in next week's draft. Beede was drafted in the first round out of high school and opted to play for Vanderbilt rather than signing with the Toronto Blue Jays.
His last win came May 2 at Missouri, and he threw a career-best 8 1/3 innings for the no decision against South Carolina on May 15. But he walked five and gave up four runs in a 7-2 loss to Mississippi that sent Vandy home early at the Southeastern Conference tournament. Vandy had played for the SEC tournament title seven of the previous 10 years.
Since that early tournament loss, the Commodores returned to Nashville where Corbin put them through some scrimmages mixed in with rest. Beede said that helped to refocus their bodies and minds as they chase the program's second College World Series berth and first since 2011.
"It gave us a lot of confidence coming into this weekend and just getting back to playing our baseball," Beede said. "It's a regional, but we're going to play our baseball."
Corbin said he is staying conservative and sticking with Beede as his Friday night starter, a role the right-hander has held all season long. Carson Fulmer, a right-handed sophomore with a 5-1 record, likely will start Saturday. Corbin didn't share his plans for Walker Buehler, who is 10-2 while typically being used as a mid-week starter.
"I think we've got a good pitching staff," Corbin said. "Better than good. Those kids are quality arms, quality minds. They've been through the wars before. They've been in this program for two and three years. They've been in Super Regionals. They've been in regionals, so there's some experience that lies in their stomach. I like their spirit and where they are right now."
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