At a team meeting Sunday, Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin talked about the need for the program to take the next step. A day later the Commodores learned that in order to do so they will have to retrace some of the steps they took a year ago.
For the second straight year Vanderbilt has to go to Louisville for the regional round of the NCAA baseball tournament.
The Commodores are the No. 2 seed in a four-team field that includes the host university, No. 3 Illinois State and No. 4 St. Louis – two of which they beat during the regular season. VU beat Illinois State 9-2 back on March 6 and topped Louisville 11-10 in 17 innings on May 11, its final non-conference game.
Vanderbilt (41-17) will play Illinois State (31-22) and Louisville (48-12) will play St. Louis (33_27) in the opening round Friday. The winners will play Saturday after the losers meet in an elimination contest.
“There needs to be another step taken,” Corbin said. “We talked about that (Sunday). We need to go a little bit further than just a regional and someday go to a super regional.
“We hope that day is this year.”
Vanderbilt advanced to the final game of the regional round in 2009 but lost 5-3 to Louisville in the decisive contest.
It was the fourth straight year the team made the tournament but failed to move beyond the regional. The Commodores’ only appearance in the super regional was in 2004, when it was swept in the best-of-three series by Texas.
They have a winning record, 9-8, in NCAA tournament play over the previous four years but have won a regional title.
“I think once the game gets started you have to get yourself caught up in the moment now,” pitcher Sonny Gray said. “I think that’s what we’re going to have to do – we’re going to get caught up in the moment now and not take last year, not take the 17-inning game we played earlier this year and not take the game versus Illinois State with us.”
After all, those things only would weigh them down.
The complete schedule for the Louisville Regional:
At Jim Patterson Stadium - Louisville, Ky.
(all times CDT)
Game 1: No. 2 Vanderbilt vs. No. 3 Illinois State, 1 p.m.
Game 2: No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Saint Louis, 5 p.m.
Game 3: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 11 a.m.
Game 4: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 3 p.m.
Game 5: Winner of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 11 a.m.
Game 6: Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5, 3 p.m.
Game 7 (if necessary): Winner of Game 6 vs. Loser of Game 6, 5 p.m.