After taking the first two games from Alabama, Vanderbilt and the Crimson Tide finished to a 3-3 tie in game three and even though the Commodores would have liked a sweep over Bama, they still accomplished a goal by receiving a higher seed headed into this week's SEC Tournament in Hoover.
Vanderbilt (33-21-1/15-13-1) finished the regular season in 6th place which earned them the No. 6 seed in Hoover, facing off in a first round elimination game against No. 11 seed, the South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Commodores and Gamecocks played earlier this season in Columbia where Vanderbilt took two out of three games from South Carolina. These two programs have been two of the best baseball programs in the SEC over the past decade but both schools have had their struggles this year, especially the Gamecocks who at one time was nationally ranked as high as 5th but now face the possibility of missing the NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina has dealt with significant injuries this season, especially in their starting rotation. Losing key pitchers like Clarke Schmidt and Tyler Johnson have damaged the Gamecocks but the SEC Tournament can be a new lease on life for many baseball teams headed to Hoover and you can be sure that the Gamecocks are looking to make a statement in game one against Vanderbilt and hopefully play their way back into a at large berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Head coach Tim Corbin has yet to announce his starting pitcher for their opening game against South Carolina but gut feeling says that he will go with the Commodores wins leader in Patrick Raby. The Knoxville native led the team in wins at 9 and more than likely has placed himself on the All-SEC team with his stellar sophomore season.
The SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama begins Tuesday morning with the Commodores and Gamecocks starting things off. Vanderbilt and South Carolina will open the tourney at 9:30 am Central with the winner facing the Kentucky Wildcats on Wednesday morning.
Two tough factors to deal with on Tuesday is the fact of starting so early in the morning but it also being an elimination game as well. Whoever comes out with the victory could have an edge headed into Wednesday's game versus the Wildcats. Vanderbilt especially would sit in a good position as they could easily throw potential No.1 overall draft pick Kyle Wright against Kentucky.
Overall it was a good finish to the regular season for the VandyBoys as finishing 6th in the SEC is a solid feat. They have also almost solidified their position as an at large team in the NCAA Tournament. Struggles might have happened at times this year but it's a new season in Hoover and the Commodores have every opportunity to not only take a deep run into the SEC Tourney but also possibly earn a better seed and location for the upcoming 64 team NCAA Championships.
All SEC Tournament games can be seen on the SEC Network except the championship game, which will be shown on ESPN2.
SEC Tournament - Hoover (AL)
#6 Vanderbilt vs. #11 South Carolina - 9:30 am Central
Winner Plays: #3 Kentucky
#7 Texas A&M vs. #10 Missouri - 30 minutes after Game One
Winner Plays: #2 LSU
#8 Auburn vs. #9 Ole Miss - 4:30 pm Central
Winner Plays: #1 Florida
#5 Miss State vs. #12 Georgia - 30 minutes after Game Three
Winner Plays: #4 Arkansas