And this time there’s even more on the line than when the two teams clashed four days earlier to kick off this year’s event.
The Tar Heels (51-15) and Commodores (53-11) take the TD Ameritrade Park diamond in an elimination game at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
Four days ago, Vanderbilt broke free from UNC for a 7-3 victory, sparked by Conner Harrell’s go-ahead, two-run home run in the sixth inning.
In the second round, Vandy lost to Florida 3-1 in a game interrupted by Monday’s vicious winds and rain, meaning the Commodores didn’t get the normal full day of rest. UNC blanked Texas 3-0 earlier Monday in a knockout game.
The pitching matchup in this win-or-go-home showdown is intriguing.
Senior right-hander Taylor Hill gets the call for Vandy and he’s no stranger to pitching in season-defining games. His last two starts came in the SEC Championship Game, a 5-0 loss to Florida, and in the regional championship game when he threw the Commodores into the Super Regional round with eight strong innings in a 6-1 triumph.
Hill, picked in the sixth round by Washington in this month’s Major League Baseball draft, is 5-1 this season with a 2.84 ERA.
In a bit of a surprise, the Tar Heels will counter with senior Greg Holt.
Holt is 7-1 with a pair of saves this season and all but one of his 32 appearances have come out of the bullpen. The one exception was a start against Miami on May 26 in Carolina’s opening game at the ACC Tournament when he logged a season-high 5.2 innings, allowing six hits and three runs in a game the Heels lost 7-5.
Regardless of the pitchers, the two offenses will take the field eager to shake out of the doldrums both have encountered in stretches since the series began.
After a 10-hit performance vs. Carolina in the opener, the Commodores scratched out only four hits against Florida’s tandem of Karsten Whitson and Steven Rodriguez and never mounted much of a threat.
The Heels, meanwhile, have yet to break out for a big inning despite 20 hits in two games. Carolina has scored more than one run in an inning just once – that on Jacob Stallings’ two-out, two-run single against Texas on Monday.
The winner of today’s meeting stays alive to face Florida at 1 p.m. Friday in the semifinal round. Whoever it is will have to beat the Gators (52-17) twice to punch a ticket to the best-of-three championship series.