NASHVILLE SUPER REGIONAL:
Friday, 1 p.m. ET; Saturday, 3 p.m. ET; Sunday, 3 p.m ET (if necessary) || ESPN2
By the time that Stanford was done getting swept by Vanderbilt in late February and early March, the Cardinal were 4-7 and looked like they might be headed for a rough season. Funny thing, though: All seven losses had come against teams that would go to the, including three against the team that will host Stanford this weekend.
Of course, that means that the Cardinal are heading right back into the stadium where they lost three straight in a series that was not marked by the valiant fight put up by Stanford. The Commodores never trailed during the series and allowed just four runs all weekend. When Stanford finally outhit Vanderbilt in the Sunday game of that series, the Cardinal offset it by committing three errors. Not a good weekend.
It might not be that easy for Vanderbilt again. The Stanford offense does have some big bats, including three players with OPSs above .900: Austin Slater, Zach Hoffpauir and Alex Blandino. (There are also four players who have started at least 20 games and have averages of below .250.) And the Cardinal have scored fewer than five runs in just four games since the beginning of May.
Meanwhile, John Hochstatter and Cal Quantrill -- the Friday and Saturday starters for this weekend's series -- each comes in with an ERA under 3.00. Quantrill actually pitched relatively well in the regular-season series between these teams. Overall, he struck out 93 batters in 103.2 innings this year, but had an erratic streak and was charged with 13 wild pitches.
But the Commodores have their own great players, of course, particularly on the pitching staff. The second series between the "brainy schools" might be a bit more competitive, but there aren't a lot of reasons to think that the outcome will be any different.