(Orient)ation gelled Vandy
Posted: Friday, June 11, 2010 6:28 pm
By: By BRENT KALLESTAD, Associated Press Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin credits a weeklong trip to Japan in late November for jump-starting a young Commodore baseball team now just a pair of wins away from its first trip to the College World Series.
Vanderbilt (45-18) came out of the loser’s bracket to knock off top-seed Louisville is last week’s regional round and advance to the super regional against Florida State in a best-of-three series that begins today. The host Seminoles (45-17) swept through their region in Norwich, Conn., with three straight wins to advance.
“We went to Tokyo for a week during Thanksgiving,” Corbin said Thursday. “When we played those games against that competition, and it was very good competition, I thought our season already started.”
Corbin said a tough early season schedule against teams on the West Coast also helped.
“From that point on our kids have responded in a very positive way, a very consistent way,” he said.
Good pitching has help Vandy avoid any prolonged losing streaks.
“We don’t drop off a whole lot from a pitching standpoint,” Corbin said.
Sonny Gray (9-5) has a 3.51 earned run average and struck out 110 hitters in 102 innings for the Commodores while Taylor Hill (6-5) recorded a 4.15 era while also throwing 102 innings.
Corbin hadn’t decided Thursday which one will pitch today with the other going Saturday.
Former Union City Greyhounds’ hurler and McKenzie product Drew Hayes is sure to come out of the bullpen. Hayes was selected in the 11th round of the year’s Major League Baseball Amateur Draft on Wednesday by the Cincinnati Reds.
Florida State coach Mike Martin named a pair of sophomore lefties as his starters: Sean Gilmartin (8-7, 4.74) will pitch the opener with Brian Busch (5-1, 4.24) up in Game 2.
Sophomore third baseman Jason Esposito led Vandy’s offense this season with a .359 batting average to go with 10 home runs, 59 runs batted in and 30 stolen bases in 34 attempts. Left-handed hitting Aaron Westlake clubbed 14 home runs and drove in 58 for Vanderbilt.
The Seminoles’ 1-2 punch comes from junior outfielders Tyler Holt and Mike McGee.
Holt led the Seminoles with a .349 average and scored 79 runs while also stealing 29 bases in 31 tries. McGee hit a team-high 14 home runs.
and drove in 67 besides 11 saves after claiming the closer’s role early in the season.
“We’ve got a ballclub that plays well together,” Martin said Thursday, noting that Holt not only leads off but leads. “Holt is a guy who goes about his business and makes sure everybody else goes about theirs. He’s played in a College World Series, he’s played in super regionals.”
And Martin hopes he’ll play in one more next week.