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Friday Nashville Super Regional Game Thread: Vanderbilt vs. ECU

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Friday at 11am CT on ESPN2.

NCAA Baseball: Nashville Regional-Vanderbilt vs Georgia Tech Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Friday June 11th at 11am CT on ESPN2

#4 Vanderbilt Commodores (43-15, 19-10 SEC)

vs.

#13 East Carolina University Pirates (43-15, 20-8 American)

On the Mound

Vanderbilt #80 Jr. RHP Kumar “White Castle” Rocker (12-3, 2.65 ERA, 13.18 K/9, 3.02 BB/9.)

vs. ECU #26 Jr. RHP Gavin “Sideshow Gavin” Williams (10-0 1.82 ERA, 14.23 K/9, 2.31 BB/9.)

Snap Analysis and Predictions:

Vanderbilt has the advantage in all aspects, but said advantage is not as pronounced as against the teams faced in the Regional (duh). ECU represents a clear upgrade in competition over Atlanta, The Larry Birds, and Corbin’s former employer (again, duh). ECU is strong in all facets of the game—pitching, hitting, and defense—but Vanderbilt will have the depth advantage and a slight talent advantage. That does not mean this will be easy.

Offense: ECU’s offense is more than capable of carrying the team to victory even on nights when their pitching is sub-par. In fact, they compare quite favorably to Vanderbilt in many aspects. Let’s take a look at the team offensive stats for 2021.

ECU: .300/.392/.472 with 97 2B, 8 3B, 75 HR, and 364 RBI. On the base paths, the Pirates have swiped 60-91 bags.

Vanderbilt: .300/.390/.510 with 123 2B, 20 3B, 86 HR and 403 RBI. On the base paths, the Diamond Dores have swiped 84-96 bags (though, admittedly, most of that is uber-freshman CF Enrique “Shockwave” Bradfield, Jr.).

As you can see, on paper, these look like near mirror-images, except the Commodores have the clear power advantage, and will “Rique” more havoc when they reach base. On top of that, you must account for relative competition levels faced, and lend more weight to the team who had to battle through the meat-grinder that is SEC conference play over the team who got to hit off American Conference pitching.

ECU’s offense, especially at the top of the order, is more than formidable. Vanderbilt’s is just a tad better.

Advantage: Vanderbilt.

Pitching: ECU will be the first team Vanderbilt has faced this postseason that is even in the same league with them in terms of pitching talent. However, for every strength ECU has, you can effectively double it on our end. They have one ace (Gavin “Sideshow Gavin” Williams); we have two (Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter—and at least one more in Christian Little who’s on his way to ace status). Whereas they have three relievers you can count on in tough situations (Mayhew, Bridges, and Colmore), we have five (Maldonado, Murphy, Smith, McElvain, and Fisher—provided Fisher has his control). Even when you look to the likely Friday pitching match-up between Rocker and Williams, one is a first rounder, and one is likely a second rounder. These are not chasms, but small margins we’re talking about here. Still, the margins favor the Dores.

Let’s take a look at their team pitching stats. Again, you will want to adjust in your head for the SEC vs. American Conference competition factor.

ECU: 4.06 ERA, .240 b/avg, 10.51 K/9, 3.47 BB/9.

Vanderbilt: 3.47 ERA, .187 b/avg, 11.79 K/9, 3.72 BB/9.

Advantage: Vanderbilt.

Anchor of Gold Twitter Poll Prediction:

Prediction: Though Williams could prove tough to face, Kumar should match or exceed him. Beyond that, once it gets to the bullpens, it’s advantage Vanderbilt. Expect to win this one, though expect the game to remain close as long as both starters are out there.

See you in the comments.


The Lineup

Very smart to go with the defense and speed lineup—moving Troy “LaLeaves the Yard” LaNeve to DH and Javier “Clone-y Kemp” Vaz to LF—against a tough pitcher. Beyond that, I love moving Mighty Carter Young back to #2 and LaNeve to the cleanup spot. Let’s do this!