NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt jumped out of the starting gates like a team possessed this season. The Commodores won their first seven games and 17 of their first 20 with an conference-opening series win over Louisiana State. A mainstay to the top 10 all season long, Vanderbilt fell on some difficult times in conference play yet managed to earn a regional host despite it all.
The first game of the regional will be on Friday at Noon ET and will pit No. 2 Oregon against No. 3 seed Clemson. Vanderbilt will face No. 4 seed Xavier at 7 p.m. ET. The losers bracket game will be at noon on Saturday with the winner’s bracket game at 7 p.m. The final game will be Sunday at 7 p.m. ET (Monday at 7 p.m., if necessary.) Vanderbilt is 4-2 all-time versus Xavier, 2-4 against Oregon and 1-1 playing Clemson, dating back to 1986.
NCAA Baseball Regional Preview – Nashville
The Commodores started the season on fire then entered conference play. The ‘Dores dropped series to Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Arkansas and South Carolina along with a surprising mid-week loss to Louisville in Nashville. Vandy was also ousted early in the SEC Conference Tournament and dropped in the national rankings as far as No. 20 by Baseball America newspaper. College Baseball Central had the Commodores at No. 18 in the final regular season poll.
Vanderbilt holds three regular season conference champions in the past eight years and one conference tournament championship in 2007. This year will be the ninth consecutive postseason appearance for Vanderbilt and 10th in 11 years. The Commodores advanced to the College World Series in 2011 where they reached the semifinals and were eliminated by the University of Florida.
The Ducks had a season much like the Commodores, starting hot and struggling come conference play. Oregon won its first eight games to begin the season and were swept in its home opener to Cal State Fullerton. Entering conference play, Oregon was 12-4 and ranked in the top 10 of every national poll. Oregon would only drop one series at home, in the final week of regular season to California. The Ducks also defeated the top-ranked Beavers in Eugene in a non-conference matchup in late May.
Oregon is one of the oldest baseball programs in the country dating back to to the old PCC with 14 conference championships spanning from 1918 to 1957. Baseball was dropped as an official team sport from 1982 until 2007 when it was finally reinstated. Since its reinstatement, it has reached the postseason four times in the past eight years. The Ducks have been to Omaha once, 60 years ago.
The Tigers out of the Atlantic Coast Conference began the season with high hopes. Ranked as high as No. 13 in the preseason polls, the Tigers lost their season opener to Eastern Michigan. Clemson dropped in the polls after a bumpy 7-4 start but went on to win eight of its next 10 games including a 9-3 win over then No. 1 Florida State.
They would go on to drop the series along with series losses to N.C. State and then No. 2 Virginia dropping them to to as low as No. 20 in the polls. More tough times were ahead as Clemson was swept by Miami, Fla. and dropped two of three to Notre Dame. The Tigers fell out out of all the national polls and won two games in the ACC Tournament to gain some semblance of respect.
Clemson has a storied history not only with postseason play but also with the College World Series. Since its first postseason game in 1947, the Tigers have racked up 39 appearances in the postseason including 26 of the past 27 seasons. With 12 College World Series trips to their credit, including four in this decade, the Tigers are still looking to make it to the title game.
The Big East Tournament champion Musketeers reach the postsesaon after besting Creighton in the conference tournament final, 5-0. The Minutemen were the lowest seed team in the four-team tournament and lost the opening-round game to Creighton before roaring back to defeat St. John’s, Seton Hall and exact revenge on the Blue Jays in the final game.
The teams had just finished a three-game series at home where Creighton took two of three, Xavier was also swept by St. John’s and Seton Hall in the two weeks prior. The Minutemen have not reached the postseason since 2009 when they lost to host Rice in the Houston regional.