Nashville, Tenn. (VU AD)– Vanderbilt started its NCAA Tournament appearance with a bang Friday night…
Baseball: No more Michigans!
Yeah, I know you can't equate baseball with combat but this Vanderbilt baseball team should adopt a similar motto this season as it heads to the NCAA: No more Michigans! We all remember. Six years ago Vanderbilt, like it is now, was considered one of the elite baseball programs in America and many experts predicted at least a Commodore appearance in the College World Series. Vandy, however, would have to wait four more years to reach that goal as the team would not even make it out of their own regional. The Commodores fell to lightly regarded Michigan in a Monday night extra innings game that ripped the heart out of the players, coaches and fans.
Think it won't happen again? Think again. The NCAA selection committee has yet again laid a mine field in Vandy's regional. East Tennessee State, Georgia Tech and Illinois can all put an end to Vanderbilt's 2013 Omaha dreams.
East Tennessee State has one of the top pitchers in America and you can bet he'll be pitching against the Commodores on Friday. Right-handed pitcher Kerry Doane (1.99 ERA) has an impressive 13-1 record as the Buccaneers starter and he'll be itching to strut his stuff to the pro scouts against Vandy. In an incredible 140 innings pitched Doane has struck out 74 while walking just 20 and allowing 31 earned run. Doane leads the nation in complete games pitched and Vandy batters need to jump on him early to prevent allowing the Bucs to gain confidence. To say that ETSU will be an easy game 1 win is a big mistake. This team is for real and could shock the Commodores if Vandy is not on top of their game.
No. 2 seed Georgia Tech certainly has the potential to be this year's Michigan. Just ask No. 1 North Carolina or No. 3 RPI Virginia about the Yellow Jackets. Both those outstanding teams lost series to Georgia Tech. In 2007 it was a freshman (Alan Oaks) that delivered a death blow to Vanderbilt's title hopes via a home run off future Cy Young winner David Price. In 2012 Oaks hit six home runs in minor league ball while David Price was pitching for MLB's Tampa Bay. This proves that it doesn't matter what credentials a team has or how many series they have won in a season. They can lose on any day in the NCAA. Could Georgia Tech's Daniel Palka (17 homers) or Zane Evans (14 homers) be this year's Oaks? You bet they could.
Illinois doesn't have some of the weapons that East Tennessee and Georgia Tech have but we didn't think much of No. 2 regional seed Michigan back in 2007 and this team is from the same conference as the Wolverines. However, the Illini were good enough to win 34 ball games and they'll be bouncing off the walls for a chance to beat Vandy, if the chance comes-- just like the Wolverines of 2007 were.
Vandy can't afford to take any of these three teams lightly. The Commodores need to go 100 percent every inning for every pitch and every swing. Please, no more Michigans!
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