LIMIT FREE BASES
The Tar Heels are hitting a respectable .289, but averaged 7 runs per game on the season. A big part of that comes from their 5.3 walks per game.
Out of 39 total runs scored since the regionals began 15 runs have come from players who were walked or hit by pitches for the Tar Heels. The Commodore pitchers will need to do their best to limit the amount of free bases given.
Shortstop Levi Michael (.300 BA) leads the team with 48 walks and 15 hit by pitches. Don't expect Tar Heels Colin Moran, Jacob Stallings, Chaz Frank or Tommy Coyle to do the Vandy pitchers any favors either. Vanderbilt did an excellent job taking away the free bases from Oregon State and will need more of the same for a picky group of North Carolina hitters.
JUMP ON JOHNSON
North Carolina pitcher Patrick Johnson rode a scoreless inning streak of 30.2 innings into the eighth inning of North Carolina's 5-2 victory over Stanford. His only loss of the season came on April 15th at N.C. State and he's been nearly flawless since, composing a 2.27 ERA with a 30-120 base on ball-strike out ratio.
Runs may be hard to come by against the Tar Heel ace so the Commodores can ill afford mistakes bunting as this may be a low scoring game. Being patient at the plate and wearing down Johnson early will also be a key factor moving into the latter half of the game.
WIN BATTLE OF BULLPENS
Will Clinard pitched superbly in Vanderbilt's victory over Oregon State. Due to the selective hitting of North Carolina and a desire to preserve pitchers for future outings, Vanderbilt relievers will need to continue to shine in Saturday’s match-up.
The bullpen is an area which clearly favors the Commodores with Kevin Ziomek and Clinard paving the way for Navery Moore.
Led by Senior Greg Holt, North Carolina's bullpen holds a solid team ERA of 3.27. Vanderbilt batters may also get a chance at right hander Cody Stiles (2.43 ERA) and closer Michael Morin (4.71 ERA). North Carolina's bullpen depth seems to lean to right handers; this may be something Vanderbilt's five left handed batters can take advantage of.
AVOID THE CIRCUS
As newcomers to the College World Series Vanderbilt players cannot let the hubbub surrounding the CWS keep them from focusing on what's important.
Coach Tim Corbin has done a great job of keeping players heads on straight throughout the season. He's commented time after time that the players have done well at keeping themselves focused. The Commodores cannot allow the increased media exposure surrounding the CWS to affect their game play.
Vandy faces a North Carolina team that has visited the CWS four times in the last five years. Following a disappointing three and out in 2009, you can bet the Tar Heels will be hungry not to repeat their 2009 finish.
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