Will the field of teams vying for the national championship dwindle even further after Friday night when the Vanderbilt Commodores and Louisville Cardinals meet up at TD Ameritrade Park? A win by the Commodores would clinch their spot in the finals and send the Cardinals packing, but can Vandy beat Louisville yet again? These two met earlier in the College World Series, but this time the Cardinals’ backs are against the wall. Will that yield different results?
First pitch for the game between Vanderbilt and Louisville is scheduled for Friday, June 21, 2019, at 7 p.m. ET at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. The matchup will be shown on ESPN.
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The Commodores came into the College World Series as the favorites and remain standing for a reason. This is a great team, playing great baseball.
They’ve got a killer tandem atop their order that allows them to get things going quickly in Austin Martin and J.J. Bleday and a deep pitching staff that causes opposing lineups fits.
To get here, Vanderbilt has put together a 56-11 record, dominating both at home and on the road. They’re 13-2 in neutral parks, including a couple wins under the belts in Omaha already, including against the Cardinals.
Before getting to Omaha, Vandy embarrassed Ohio State and Indiana State in the Regionals and then suffered a demoralizing loss to Duke to start the Super Regionals but bounced back in a big way for a pair of wins against the Blue Devils, outscoring them 16-2 in those two games.
Here in the College World Series, we’ve seen excellent pitching—both starting and out of the pen—as well as some clutch hitting as the team’s yet to take a loss with a 3-1 win over Louisville and 6-3 win over Mississippi State.
Speaking of Louisville, they’ve got the one loss to Vanderbilt, but have also collected wins over Auburn and, most recently, Mississippi State in an epic comeback in the ninth inning on Thursday night.
They topped the Tigers narrowly, 5-3, with a solid well-played game, grabbing the early lead and adding on. The offense went cold against Vanderbilt but did enough against the Bulldogs’ bullpen in the comeback victory. They were held scoreless through six, but never gave up, showing no quit
Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin has plenty of options both to start this game and to use out of the pen.
The Commodores are four-deep in strong starting pitching. Kumar Rocker made the start against Mississippi State on Wednesday so he’s out, but Drake Fellows is available to come back after beating Louisville on Sunday.
In addition to Fellows, who brings a 4.15 ERA and a ton of innings to the hill, Mason Hickman and Patrick Raby are other options. Both Hickman and Raby are sub-3 ERAs and, like Fellows, offers more than a strikeout per inning, showing the dominance of their stuff.
Whoever doesn’t start can be used out of the pen. We’ve seen Raby used that way already. Along with them, Tyler Brown has 14 saves and a 2.59 ERA in 41.2 innings out of the pen. Jake Eder, Ethan Smith and Hugh Fisher are all excellent—and dependable—arms with strong numbers and plenty of swing-and-miss in their respective games.
To counter the collection of arms at Corbin’s disposal, the Cardinals have Reid Detmers teed up for the start against Vanderbilt. He faced them the first time around and went 5.2 innings, allowing just one run and leaving with the game tied at one.
Detmers struggled some with the walks, walking six, but did well avoiding damage and getting out of trouble with just the one run allowed on three hits. He also struck out five. He’ll try to be more pitch efficient and more in the zone on Friday.
The southpaw is 12-4 on the season with 2.79 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. He’s holding the opposition to a meager .177 batting average against and has been stingy with the walks before this week. In fact, he has just 33 walks all season in 113 innings of work. In that same time, he’s struck out 167 batters, showing just how dominant of a pitcher he can be. He could really be a difference maker between this game and the last time the Bulldogs took on Vandy.
Beyond Detmers is a solid collection of arms. Bryan Hoeing gave it up against Vanderbilt last time around with two runs in 0.2 innings, but he was an effective reliever this year. Michael Kirian, Shay Smiddy, Adam Elliott, and Michael McAvene, amongst others, have all put up impressive stats. Kirian, in particular has a 1.69 ERA and strong K:9 ratio.
For as good as the pitching is for the Commodores the offense may even be better. J.J. Bleday is one of the best college players in the game. The top draft pick has a .351 average with 26 home runs and 69 RBIs as a catalyst in the middle of the lineup.
He’s scored 77 run and drawn 54 walks, too, sporting a .464 OBP and mind boggling .717 slugging percentage, that’s a 1.181 OPS. And he’s not the only one OPSing over 1.000 on the team. Austin Martin is an excellent table setter with a .410 average and .503 OBP. He’s got some power, too, collecting 100 hits with 19 doubles, four triples and eight homers. Stephen Scott, meanwhile, has a dozen homers and 20 doubles along with a .339/. 460/.591 slash line.
Beyond those three, there are others like Philip Clarke who has 68 RBI and a .303 average. Top to bottom, this lineup can rake with plenty of quality at bats on the bench as well.
Overall, the team has a .318 average and .418 OBP, showing an excellent batting eye and great contact skills. Give the team’s solid power via 93 homers and quality speed headlined by Martin and Harrison Ray, this is a team that can score many ways.
Martin was the hero in the Louisville game while Bleday and Scott carried the load in the win over Mississippi State.
It’s hard to imagine any team offering a more balanced offense, but the Louisville can hit, too.
The Cardinals blew by East Carolina in the Super Regionals with 26 run in the two games. Looking strictly at the overall numbers, however, it’s clear Vanderbilt has the edge. The Cardinals have a .293 average and .388 OBP with a .435 slugging. The average and OBP are both solid though the slugging percentage is a bit low. The team doesn’t stack up in the power department.
Alex Binelas is the only Louisville batter with double-digit homers, but the speed on this team sets them apart from the Commodores. It’s that speed that helped lead to the two-run ninth on Thursday against Mississippi State, forcing a throwing error on a pick-off throw and setting up the tying run.
Lucas Dunn, Tyler Fitzgerald, Justin Lavey, and Jake Snider are all contributors with their legs and stolen base threats.
Save the power, the Bulldogs matchup rather well with Vanderbilt despite the results the first time around. This team’s offense isn’t elite, but it can score if given a chance, just ask East Carolina.
Everything lines up in Vanderbilt’s favor for this one. The Commodores will be the more well-rested team after Louisville’s needed win Thursday night to advance.
In addition, the Commodores have also already beaten the Cardinals in Omaha earlier this week and are in the much less stressful position of having a loss to work with. It’s another must win for Louisville.
Look for all of that to benefit the Commodores as Vanderbilt grabs an early lead as the offense shows excellent patience and takes advantage of some early mistakes. With his days in the college ranks ticking, look for Bleday to have a nice game, propelling the offense.
Meanwhile, count on a solid pitching performance by Vandy who always seem to have plenty of pitching at their disposal. Between a stacked rotation—some of whom can be used in relief—and a great collection of relief arms, there’s more than enough to close this one out.
It may be the chalk pick but take Vanderbilt to grab another win over Louisville at BookMaker.eu.
MLB Odds:Vanderbilt 8, Louisville 4
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