OMAHA, Neb. — Who says you can’t be smart and pretty? Vanderbilt is sitting real pretty in its second-ever trip to the College World Series.
The first team to 2-0 in Omaha after Monday’s 6-4 win against UC Irvine, the Commodores don’t play again until Friday (winners’ bracket), now waiting for the victor of Wednesday’s Texas-UC Irvine matchup (elimination bracket).
That winner will have to beat Vandy twice to keep the Commodores out of the championship series.
Vanderbilt is a win away from playing for a national championship. Chew on that for a second, the national championship.
Know how many national championships Vanderbilt (48-19) currently owns? One more than the number of athletic departments it has. The lone NCAA title in school history came in 2007 — courtesy of the school’s bowling team.
Vandy doesn’t even have an athletic department, for the love of country music.
Promising prospect — and fast worker — Walker Buehler kept the light on those hopes bright against the Anteaters. After another lackluster performance from starting ace Tyler Beede, the sophomore didn’t have time to scratch and sniff on the hill. He just got outs.
Buehler’s final line: 5 1/3 innings, no hits, two walks and seven strikeouts to improve to 12-2.
"He pitched like a first-rounder waiting to happen," UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie said. "I’m going to be Buehler’s agent."
Buehler got the victory behind the offensive help of center fielder John Norwood, who tallied the go-ahead sacrifice fly (with Vandy trailing 4-2 at the time) and then an insuring RBI single.
But Beede has to be better. He was the 14th pick in the recent Major League Baseball Draft, a good number that will produce a big-dollar figure. His numbers in the last three outings: Digits that would make the Giants holler for giving him that many dollars.
Beede nearly got beaten by the Anteaters Monday night at TD Ameritrade Park, a third straight bad outing in a really big game with really bad command.
Spotted a 2-0 lead, he was all over the place and out of the game before the fourth inning ended. He pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed three hits and four earned runs. He struck out four, but walked three and hit three batters.
Of Beede’s 71 pitches … 35 were balls.
In the Nashville Super Regional against Stanford, the junior had been roughed up, as well. After three scoreless innings against the Cardinal, he gave up two runs in the fourth inning and four in the fifth — all earned. He hit three batters, threw a wild pitch and walked four.
Things went sour in an SEC Tournament loss to Ole Miss, with Beede allowing three earned runs on three hits. Of equal relevance, he walked five and hit two batters in a 7-2 defeat.
After breezing through the first inning on Monday, it happened again to Beede.
"I think it’s a situation where you end up like that and you start steering the ball a little bit and the ball gets away from you and you try a little bit harder," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. "I think all pitchers have been there. It’s not an easy thing."
Beede can be really good. In the regional opener against Xavier, he struck out 14 and gave up four hits over eight innings. But it’s been more bad than good of late.
It’s not the 3.80 ERA and 8-7 record scouts salivate over, it’s his stealth fastball and commanding changeup. Lately though, he’s been commanded.
Beede bit his glove Monday before walking off the mound. The MLB’s Giants were surely biting their fingernails.
You have to assume he is going to have one of those Xavier games and blow the doors off of somebody. That performance is just brooding in the pot, a recipe for a remarkable run.
"I always think that when Tyler pitches," Corbin said.
Dansby Swanson had been called "Darby" by the press conference moderator after Saturday’s CWS win against Louisville.
But at this rate, he’ll be called, College World Series MVP.
Swanson went 2 for 5 with a pair of RBIs Saturday. On Monday, the Commodores second baseman raised the bar, going 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles, two runs and a stolen base. His first-inning walk produced the game’s first run and after Beede imploded, he led off a three-run 5th with his 26th double of the season.
An inning later, Swanson’s doubled tied the school record.
Swanson is 5 for 10 in Vanderbilt’s two wins. Against UC Irvine, he barely missed the first home run of the CWS — a rocket shot just under the yellow stripe in the 335-foot left-field corner. At Vandy’s stadium (310 feet at that spot), it would have been Swanson’s fourth home run of the season.
"I knew I hit it well," Swanson said. "I knew I should have done those push-ups last night."
That 10 was a bases-loaded rocket right at third baseman Taylor Sparks that nearly drove in a couple.
Brooding in the pot is a very special few days if Vandy — young Vandy — keeps its anchor down.