If you had told me several days ago that I could pick one team to win its regional and go to the College World Series, I probably would have gone with Vanderbilt. No disrespect to Louisville, which was probably one of the better teams to not get a national seed, but the Commodores had the 1-2 punch of Kevin Ziomek and Tyler Beede combined with a great offense. Vanderbilt was coming off setting the record for SEC wins in a season, and that was no accident.
And while neither Ziomek or Beede pitched particularly well -- Ziomek gave up four earned runs Saturday and Beede was yanked after 2.2 innings Sunday -- the biggest culprit in the Commodores' weekend defeat was the offense. The bats went silent on Vanderbilt, particularly in the biggest situations. Vanderbilt left 11 men on in the 5-3 loss on Saturday; they repeated that feat in the 2-1 loss on Sunday. Leaving runners on base is a good thing when it means you're getting a lot of hits and a lot of runs and leaving them on; but when you get four runs on 12 hits and nine walks in the course of a weekend, it's not good.
Vanderbilt is hardly alone. It has not been a good year to be one of the eight national seed in the NCAA baseball tournament. Half of them are already gone from the tournament, two more could be gone by the end of the night and all but LSU will have to go to a third game simply to get to Omaha. A recap of the carnage:
- (1) North Carolina will face South Carolina on Monday to decide who will advance to the College World Series;
- (2) Vanderbilt is, again, out;
- (3) Oregon State will face elimination later Sunday and will need to win two in a row to get to Omaha;
- (4) LSU survived;
- (5) Cal State Fullerton was swept in the super regional by UCLA;
- (6) Virginia faces elimination Sunday and, if necessary, Monday;
- (7) Florida State lost Sunday to Indiana to complete a two-and-out against the first B1G team to make the College World Series in almost 30 years;
- (8) Oregon lost in the regionals.
Not that it matters much to Vanderbilt fans that they are one of many upsets. Or that, with Tim Corbin boasting three 50-win seasons already, the Commodores will almost certainly be back soon. There were some -- self included -- who thought that Vanderbilt should have gotten the No. 1 seed this year. But, aside from the fact that it's been a terrible season for national seeds all around, there was little evidence of that team over its final and most important weekend.