On Friday, Vanderbilt played like a throwback team. Unfortunately it was a throwback to 2004, when Texas stomped out the Commodores to win the Austin Super Regional.
The Longhorns took advantage of Vandy's shaky pitching and even worse luck to topple the 'Dores 4-0. With the win, Texas forced a loser-goes-home showdown for Saturday. The winner of that game will advance to the College World Series Final to take on either Virginia or Ole Miss.
Texas starter Nathan Thornhill was stellar on the mound, twirling eight shutout innings and settling into a groove after allowing a runner in scoring position in each of the first four innings. His efforts kept UT's season alive - for another day, at least.
Texas struck first, loading the bases without even swinging the bat to start this game thanks to a pair of hit batsmen and a four-pitch walk from Vandy starter Tyler Ferguson. Ferguson then got a clutch strikeout and appeared to avoid any damage when he induced a potential double-play grounder up the middle, but the ball caromed off the infield ump to score a run and prevent the 'Dores from getting a single out. Two batters later, Ferguson walked in a run to end his day after just two-thirds of an inning on the mound.
Reliever Brian Miller looked solid in getting Vandy out of the first with a clutch strikeout, but he ran into trouble in the next inning. Back-to-back triples from Zane Gurwitz and
Ty Brooks Marlow added two more runs for UT in the bottom of the second. Miller bounced back to throw 7.1 innings of stabilizing ball for the Commodores, but the damage had already been done. Ferguson could have thrown a perfect game and only pitched this matchup into extra innings on Friday.
The two teams will rematch tomorrow at 2PM central time if Ole Miss defeats Virginia tonight (S-E-C!). Should the Cavaliers hold serve, Vandy and Texas will face off at 7PM in order to give us all a more palatable drinking schedule. The 'Dores will have a pitching decision on their hands, but it seems likely that ace Carson Fulmer will get the call to start Saturday's elimination matchup.