CWS: 5 Keys to a Vanderbilt Win

If you are a Vanderbilt fan, you're either wishing the Gators had been eliminated earlier in the NCAA tournament or you're glad that the Commodores get another shot at their SEC East rivals. Florida is a solid ball team and has beaten Vandy in 3-of-4 meetings this season. The fifth meeting is today and the stakes are higher than ever. Here are 5 keys to a Commodore CWS victory No. 2.

Jump on Whitson early

Karsten Whitson (2.45 ERA) leads a very solid group of Gator arms in strikeouts with 83. When Vanderbilt faced the right-hander on May 15th the freshman allowed five hits, three runs and one walk while striking out five in 4.1 innings. While those numbers are not horrible, the Commodores went on to lose that game 6-3 in 12 innings and subsequently lost a chance to be outright SEC Regular Season Champions. Vandy needs to jump on this young pitcher early and get him frustrated.

Control Fontana

Five Gator batters have a higher batting average than Nolan Fontana (.295) yet the shortstop has battered the Commodores in four games this season, picking up 6 hits, a home run, and four walks while batting a sizzling .400. By contrast, no other Gator starting batter is averaging over .267 versus VU pitchers the season. Vanderbilt pitcher Grayson Garvin was able to keep Fontana under control in the May 14th game in Nashville, limiting the sophomore to a hit and a walk in a 14-1 Commodore romp. If Garvin can do that again today for the Black & Gold it will increase his team's chances of staying in the winner's bracket.

Win the battle of late big hits

Trailing 3-2 on Saturday to North Carolina, Vanderbilt batters got the job done in the sixth and eighth innings, scoring five runs and propelling the Commodores to a truly historic victory. Flash back to that 12 inning 6-3 loss to the Gators in May. With the score tied, 3-3, SEC Player of the Year Mike Zunino, who has only batted .125 against the Commodores in four games, belted a 3-run homer to give the Gators a crucial victory. During crunch time Vandy must get the bats rocking while not giving up the big hit to the Gators.

Capitalize on bunts

In Saturday's win over North Carolina, Tony Kemp reached second via an electrifying bunt that put Vandy in business early. However, all too often we've seen bunting blunders by the Commodores, many of them by Kemp. Vanderbilt won't get far wasting at-bats with pop up bunts that result in easy outs for its opponents. Well executed bunts increase the ‘Dores chances of winning.

Don't fear the Gators

Sure the Gators have won two straight over Vandy and six of the last ten. Yes, that 12th inning Zunino homer hurt, but the truth is not much separates these two teams. The pressure should now be on the Gators. They are the higher seeded team and have beaten the Commodores in 75 percent of the meetings. Vandy proved with the lopsided May victory that they can indeed beat Florida. If Tim Corbin's boys can play aggressive yet loose ball today, they'll have a good shot at staying in the winner's bracket.

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