In what could be the most interesting opening matchup of the College World Series, the Vanderbilt Commodores and Louisville Cardinals will meet up in the early game on the second day in Omaha. Vanderbilt enters the World Series as the favorites. They’re the only team still standing with a national title in the last 56 years, getting theirs in 2014.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, are a national power, but have struggled in the College World Series. Can Louisville ride a very strong Super Regional performance to an upset victory over the top team on Sunday or will Vanderbilt’s offense be too much for the Cardinals?
First pitch for the game between Vanderbilt and Louisville is scheduled for Sunday, June 16, 2019, at 2 p.m. ET at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. The matchup will be shown on ESPN.
You can bet on College World Series odds at BookMaker.eu.
Vanderbilt is the top ranked team still standing as we have finally reached the College World Series. The Commodores finished their season 54-11 including a stellar 23-7 mark in a tough SEC conference. They’re also 24-6 away from home, including 11-2 on a neutral field.
The Commodores topped Louisville 6-2 back in May and save a stumble against Duke to kick off the Super Regionals have breezed to this point in the tournament, crushing Ohio State and Indiana State in the Regionals and topping Duke 16-2 in the final two games of the three-game set.
The Cardinals come into this game off a truly impressive showing in the Super Regionals. Louisville limped through the Regionals—of which they hosted—barely squeezing by Indiana in an elimination game but came throw huge against East Carolina with a +25-run differential in two games, pitching great and showing plenty of offense.
Overall, the Cardinals are were 49-16 this year and 15-4 on the road, but they’re just 1-4 on a neutral site which bares watching in Omaha.
Drake Fellows took the ball—and his first loss of the season—in the disastrous outing against Duke in the Super Regionals. He leads the Commodores in innings, but Kumar Rocker and Mason Hickman got the starts in the final two games against the Blue Devils with better results.
Rocker was just nasty. The freshman tossed a no-hitter just after his team allowed 18 to Duke the game before. He recorded a staggering 19 strikeouts with just two walks and a hit by pitch as the only blemishes on his record. He hurled a ton of pitches so may not be the answer in this one. Overall, he’s 10-5 with a 3.50 ERA, but got better as the season progressed and has the best stuff.
Hickman, however, was 8-0 with a 2.23 ERA and .188 batting average against. Patrick Raby could also get some innings with a 2.82 ERA in 73.1 of them this season. He pitched a pair of innings to clinch the Super Regionals as did Zach King who needed just 21 pitched for those two frames.
The pitching staff for Vandy is deep. In the bullpen, closer Tyler Brown has a 58:8 strikeout to walk ratio with a single homer allowed in 41.2 innings. He’s posted a 2.59 ERA and 14 saves. Jake Elder and Ethan Smith have plenty of swing and miss themselves.
On the other side, Reid Detmers is the ACC Pitcher of the Year and should get the start to kick off the College World Series for Louisville.
The southpaw has been nasty all season with 162 strikeouts in his 17 starts. He typically gives the Cardinals depth with 107.1 innings thrown and has a 12-4 record and a 2.85 ERA. With a WHIP of 0.89 and an opponent batting average at .178, batters have a hard time squaring him up.
That said, Detmers has allowed 11 homers and does walk guys from time-to-time so he’s not invincible. Behind him, the Cardinals have Michael McAvene as one of the best college closers. He’s got 46 strikeouts in 30.1 innings and has allowed just three home runs and nine walks with an opponent batting average of .160.
Bridging the gap between Detmers and McAvene, if necessary, are a collection of quality arms, including Michael Kirian with a 1.13 ERA in 29.1 innings. Shay Smiddy and Adam Elliott have also put up impressive numbers.
This game features a pair of college baseball’s better offenses. Vanderbilt, however, has the advantage here.
The Commodores are led by outfielder J.J. Bleday who is one of the best hitters in college baseball and went fourth overall in the MLB First Year Player Draft.
Bleday is anchoring the lineup with a .350/.464/.717 slash line and 26 home runs. He provides much of the team’s pop though Stephen Scott and Julian Infante each have a dozen homers, too.
While Bleday is a huge threat in the middle of the order, he’s got one of the game’s better leadoff men ahead of him in third baseman Austin Martin. Martin has a few homers—including a big one in Game 3 of the Super Regionals—along with some other extra base hits, but his biggest asset is a .410 average and .503 OBP along with 18 steals. He brings on base and speed atop the order.
With Martin and Bleday along with a collection of .300+ hitters like Scott, Ethan Paul, Philip Clarke amongst others the Vanderbilt lineup is as deep as they game. The group has a .318 combined average and a staggering .418 OBP with 93 total home runs in just 65 games.
Louisville, on the other hand, is batting .295 as a team with a .391 team OBP and 51 dingers. The Cardinals, however, do have a bit more game speed with four guys stealing at least 13 and 106 total steals, that’s nearly two a game.
Vanderbilt may be a bit better statistically, but the Cardinals are still averaging 7.7 runs per game.
Alex Binelas is the offensive leader on this team. He’s hitting .307 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI. Tyler Fitzgerald, meanwhile, leads the team in RBI with 64 and has a .324 average and Logan Wyatt has the best eye on the team and is good at making the opposition work. He’s got a .291 average, but a .458 OBP. That’s quite the gap. That batting eye along with his power is what earned him a second-round selection in the MLB draft despite a propensity to strikeout.
While the overall numbers are good, Louisville’s tournament offense has been great. In seven tournament games, the Cardinals are batting .320 and scored 26 in a pair of Super Regional games against East Carolina.
Louisville has fallen behind early in a few games leading into the College World Series, but that won’t fly against Vanderbilt. The Commodores’ offense is too good. Look for the Cardinals to fall a few runs behind and battle to keep it close, but ultimately fall short. Detmers will do his best to keep Vanderbilt in check, but count on the Commodores to scratch across a couple runs against him.
The Cardinals need to grab an early lead and get to their dominant closer with the lead to have a chance, but Vanderbilt is the best team left standing and are too deep on both sides of the ball to let that happen.
Count on Vandy’s relentless offense to beat down Detmers and the Louisville pitching staff and pull through with a win behind big performances by Bleday and Martin.
Take the Commodores to grab the win at BookMaker.eu.
MLB Odds: Vanderbilt 6, Louisville 5
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