Vanderbilt kicks off their College World Series title defense on Sunday, but they'll have a tough road to travel in order to reclaim the NCAA title. They'll stare down three other Regional hosts once play starts in Omaha, and that includes cross-conference rival LSU.
First, they'll need to dispatch a Cal State Fullerton team that has fluctuated between greatness and mediocrity in 2015. The Commodores will send Carson Fulmer up to face Thomas Eshelman in a battle of All-American pitchers. This duel should make Sunday's game must-see television - and former All-Star Aaron Boone will be there to call all the action from the booth above TD Ameritrade Stadium.
Mr. Boone was kind enough to join me on Thursday afternoon to help preview the 2015 College World Series. We got to talk for about 10 minutes on the Commodores, Titans, and who he likes in Omaha. Here's what he had to say about:
Fullerton's gameplan for Sunday night:
Fullerton, generally speaking, is not going to bludgeon you offensively. They're going to hope to hold them home, manufacture some runs, and hopefully - from their end - win a low-scoring game.
Carson Fulmer and Thomas Eshelman facing off on Sunday night:
Eshelman, his strikeout to walk rate is like 18:1 - it's head and shoulders better than anyone in college baseball, so, it's a heck of a matchup in that first round. It's going to be a lot of fun.
Whether or not relying on freshmen like Kyle Wright could burn Vanderbilt in a high-pressure situation like the College World Series:
[Wright] is pitching with a lot of confidence right now, and Tim Corbin has a lot of confidence in going to him right now...I don't think I would be concerned because it's his first time or he's a freshman. At the end of the day, he's really good.
I've got the entire interview below for your convenience. Unfortunately, the audio has some issues - phone problems on both ends kept us cutting in and out. Even so, Aaron had some great insights that should make Vanderbilt feel much better about their bullpen situation and the status of their freshmen. Take a listen to the whole interview here:
Aaron won't just be calling the games in Omaha. He'll also be helping Allstate give back to the Omaha community by partnering with the Good Hands in the Stands program. They'll donate $500 per foul ball caught in the stands - up to $25,000 - to Boys Town.