The last time we faced Louisville, Austin Martin hit two dingers, and our Ace (Drake Fellows) out-aced their Ace (Reid Detmers) to the tune of a 3-1 win.
The penultimate time we faced them, we took back the damned Barrel 6-2. Mason Hickman was on the mound then, too. For Louisville? Well, they sent every arm in their pen—an absurd 9 pitchers.
Either of those results will be fine tonight.
We are SEC regular season champions, SEC Tournament champions, and have beaten every team in our side of the bracket—a combined 8-0 against Auburn, Mississippi State, and Louisville this year.
We’ve beaten Louisville twice this year. Tonight, we go for the sweep, and to punch our ticket to the College World Series Finals against Michigan.
(please and thank you)
On the Mound
Vanderbilt So. RHP Mason “The Stonecutter” Hickman (8-0, 2.23 ERA)
Louisville Jr. RHP Luke “Midweek” Smith (6-0, 4.37 ERA)
We saw Luke Smith for all of 2 batters (1 BB, 1 Fly Out) back on May 7th when we took the Barrel back by the final tally of 6-2. That doesn’t mean anything, but I just like pointing out that we have the damned Barrel, Louisville, and you’re not getting it back!
Smith may well be the only Louisville pitcher that’s well rested right now, as he last pitched on Sunday June 2nd in an 11-2 win over Illinois State.
His line for that game was: 8 & 1⁄3 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 BB, and 7 K in an arm-exploding 129 pitches. He also uncorked two wild pitches and balked once.
In case that line scares you, feel free to peruse the stat lines of his other 8 starts on the year. His performance in the Regional against Illinois State was his longest by 2 innings, those 129 pitches were his highest by 38, and his K/9 rate is just under 6.5 on the year. His batting average against, while perfectly cromulent, is 25 points higher than Louisville’s team average. Though it’s Friday, we’re facing their midweek starter. By any metric, that Illinois State start was an outlier. Don’t let yourself forget that.
Of course, Vanderbilt’s offense is not Illinois State’s offense.
For evidence, this tweet will suffice:
Vanderbilt will counter with the man who is probably our 2nd best starting pitcher right now: Mason “The Stonecutter” Hickman.
The Stonecutter leads the team in ERA, has a sub 1.00 WHIP (.96), the best K/9 rate amongst our starting pitchers (12.4), and a dominant .188 Batting Average Against.
In short, he’s good.
See you in the comments.