After getting stung with a surprising loss in the first round, Vanderbilt is out to prove it's still the team to beat in this year's tournament. But Louisville has put together a strong season of its own and isn't ready for it to come to an end yet.
(2) Vanderbilt vs. 1 Louisville
Hawkins Field, Nashville
Saturday: 3 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday: 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Monday (if necessary): 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
All times Eastern
The Commodores and Cardinals are quietly becoming one of college baseball's better rivalries, having squared off in the postseason frequently in the past half-decade. Vandy dominates the series, 22-4, including a 10-2 victory in this year's "Battle for the Barrel," but don't think it will be taking Louisville lightly.
This is Vandy's fourth super regional appearance, its last coming in 2011. The 'Dores will be looking to advance to Omaha for only the second time in school history. Louisville has nine trips to the CWS under its belt, the last of which came in '07.
Path to the supers
The Cardinals hosted and won a regional in Louisville, going undefeated in three games over Bowling Green, Miami (Fla.) and Oklahoma State. They used a six-run seventh to down second-seeded Miami, 6-4, on Saturday, passing their biggest test of the early round with flying colors.
The first two games in Nashville went as expected, as Vandy swept aside East Tennessee and Illinois with relative ease. Things got real when the offense fell flat against Georgia Tech and a 5-0 loss gave the 'Dores an unexpected wake-up call. They responded with poise, pulling away from the Yellow Jackets for a 7-1 win in the deciding game.
Ty Young, Jeff Gardner and Coco Johnson all have at least a .330 average, 40 RBI and four home runs. That trio combined for six RBI in the 12-3 regional-clinching win over Oklahoma State.
Vanderbilt is a machine at the plate, leading the SEC in average, slugging percentage, runs and walks. SEC Player of the Year Tony Kemp was a big part of that, hitting .398 on the season.
This series could look more like a track meet than a set of baseball games, as both team are extremely aggressive on the basepaths and love to run. Between them, the two clubs have stolen a gaudy 279 bases. Three Commodores and four Cardinals have at least 20 steals during 2013.
Vandy puts out one of the most formidable one-two starting combos in the country in Tyler Beede and Kevin Ziomek. The 14-0 Beede is the first man out, but Ziomek, who's 11-2, essentially serves as a 1B starter. Both have more than 100 strikeouts on the season. Ziomek made easy work of East Tennessee State last Friday (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 5 K), but Beede struggled a bit against Illinois. He lasted only four innings, though only two of the runs credited against him were earned.
Louisville has two starters with double-figures wins in juniors Jeff Thompson and Chad Green, both of whom are hovering in the low-2 range in ERA. Closer Nick Burdi is a beast out of the pen, boasting 15 saves and a 0.82 ERA.
Georgia Tech proved the Commodores can be felled, and Louisville may be able to knock them down once again. Once is the key term there, though. The Cardinals take one of the first two, but Vandy's deep pitching staff grinds them down in Game 3 and the Commodores move on to Omaha.