Friday, May 25, 2007

Vanderbilt Hotline: Rematch Edition...

Vanderbilt staved off elimination by beating Mississippi State 3-2 yesterday in Hoover, Alabama. Ole Miss' 6-3 win over Tennessee means Tim Corbin's Commies will face-off against Vomit Orange tonight around 7:30 EDT in a must win game for both teams. While it's debatable whether or not Vanderbilt would be in this position had Price started Wednesday and Matt Minor started yesterday (I still contend CTC did the right thing), the fact remains, as Mo Patton points out in today's Tennessean, that Vanderbilt's staff is well rested.

If you aren't excited about tonight's game, then you really aren't paying attention. This game will be high drama for both squads. Vanderbilt, coming into the SEC Tournament as the #1 seed and #1 team in the country, does not want to get bounced before the weekend. For Tennessee, their NCAA tournament bona fides are not a "slam dunk," and probably need another win in order to get a bid.

The Vanderbilt/UT game is an intriguing match-up, even beyond the rivalry. Vanderbilt is only 2-5 against UT in the SEC Tournament. Coach Corbin will out the the team's tournament fate in the hands of All-SEC Freshman hurler Matt Minor. Minor is 8-1 on the season and already has a win over UT this season. In Minor's last outing Vanderbilt beat Tennessee 4-3, with Minor giving the Commies 6.0 innings, allowing 5 hits and 3 earned runs. Not exactly a dominating performance, but good enough for the win. For Tennessee, it is likely their #3 pitcher, Lance McClain, will take the hill in this elimination game. McClain was roughed up in UT's 7-6 loss to Vanderbilt at the end of April. McClain gave up 5 runs on 6 hits in just 2.2 innings (it's worth mentioning that that line was almost identical to Vanderbilt starter Stephen Shao in this particular game). While Vanderbilt's bats came alive at the end of their last game against the Volunteers, scoring 4 runs in the final 2 innings and bringing the tying run to the plate in the 9th, Vanderbilt's offensive production has really been lacking. As Brett Hait points out in today's Nashville City Paper, Vanderbilt is hitting a paltry .153 in the SEC tournament. Besides Vanderbilt's two "big" innings in the tournament, Vanderbilt has only gotten 3 hits in 15 innings. Good pitching can only take you so far, and despite Minor's impressive record, he is still a freshman competing in his first SEC Tournament. The bats needs to give him some run support, especially early on.

UT's top 7 hitters were 13-23 (.565) against Commodore pitching on Wednesday. Granted, they weren't facing our #2, but they were facing guys they had trouble against when these teams met in Nashville. Hopefully, Vanderbilt will have confidence going into tonight's game knowing one, that they've beaten this pitcher before; and two, that they still, despite being contained almost all day, had a chance to tie the game in the 9th on Wednesday. Should be a great game and VSL will be watching it somewhere in the DC area. Keep checking back for an update on our location for the 7:30ish start. Right now, the leader in the clubhouse is Ventnor's Sports Cafe in Adams Morgan. If the location changes, or I discover they won't have the game, I will post an update.

Despite being UT fans, I did want to give a little love to for linking to VSL. To read how the enemy is preparing for the game, click here.

Jacqui Concolino is tied for 4th in the women's NCAA Championships, here's the Tennessean's reprint of the wire report.

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day. I will be around, hopefully glued to the TV watching Vanderbilt baseball and playing some golf. The Sopranos and Entourage ARE NOT new this week, giving me the weekend to catch up.

Finally, check out my boy's shallow thoughts.

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