NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt approached the NCAA tournament like it was a new season after a rare early exit from the Southeastern Conference tournament. Now the Commodores need just two more wins for only Vanderbilt's second trip to the College World Series and first since 2011.
And the Commodores swept Stanford, the team standing in their way, early this season.
"Obviously, right when the season starts in January and February, it's hard to look forward to Omaha," said Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, who will start Friday. "But that's certainly the reason why you play the game is to get to that last day of college baseball and be playing and to be two wins away, it's sort of like, 'OK, we're here, but we need to finish business.'"
The Commodores had played for the SEC title seven of the past 10 years. Well rested, they needed only three wins to reach their fourth Super Regional in five years. Vanderbilt (44-18) had three games of strong pitching and freshman Ro Coleman's walk off single for a 3-2 win over Oregon put the Commodores into their fourth Super Regional in five years.
Stanford advanced to this best-of-three game series on a walk off two-run homer by freshman Tommy Edman against Indiana on Monday.
The Cardinal (34-24) are making their second trip to Nashville this year, and that three-game trip in late February and early March ended in a Vanderbilt sweep with the Commodores outscoring the Cardinal 13-4 over three games. Coach Mark Marquess started three freshmen in that early series and said the Cardinal weren't hitting either then.
Freshman pitcher Cal Quantrill said Stanford was a completely different team then.
"I'm sure that they've made some changes, too, but I think this will be a great opportunity to see how big of a difference a couple months has made," Quantrill said. "We've been really jelling as a group lately. We're getting runs from everywhere in the lineup. Our team's changed a lot, we've gotten a lot better and we're ready to go."
Here are five things to know about the Super Regional at Vanderbilt: