Ahead of this weekend's matchup with the #2 Commodores, I spoke with jenngreening of the great Vandy blog and SBN member Anchor of Gold to get an idea of what to expect when Vandy comes to The Box this weekend.
PodKATT: Last summer,Vandy allowed UVA to win the first CWS Championship by an ACC team since 1955. Explain why Vandy decided to embarrass the SEC with this grand shame.
jenngreening: If you watched the game like the rest of the world, then you would have seen that a lot went into that game that was beyond Vanderbilt's control. Another thing is, Virginia is and has been a really good baseball program and truly deserved to win a CWS Championship-- just maybe not that particular one. All I remember during that final game was that it shouldn't have ended that way. Things weren't going Vanderbilt's way when they really should have, and I was severely disappointed with Virginia's way of going about it and handling it. Virginia's a great baseball program, and won the championship regardless.
PK: Vandy's the #2 team in the country, but the resume seems kinda lacking. The win at Stanford is impressive, but that series loss at home against Miss. St is concerning. Do you think Vandy is the #2 team in the country.
jg: Mississippi State is not a bad baseball team. For a few years now, they've produced quite a few prospects and won a few important series. Vanderbilt has proven multiple times this season that they are a team that can come back from any deficit, at home or away, and at times blow out the competition. There have been a few times when Vanderbilt didn't seem to show up to games, but that never lasted more than the day and they always rebound. I don't think a lot of teams can do that. I don't think there are very many teams this year that can show up as consistently as Vanderbilt does, and when they miss a game or two, they shake it off that very night. Yes, I do think this team is where it should be right now.
PK: Is Hayden Stone set as Vandy's 3rd starter now (written before starters for the weekend were announced) Also, I read that the injured John Kilichowski made an appearance recently. Is he back in action?
jg: It appears Hayden Stone has been more reliable in that role than his previous one, with Ben Bowden taking over in late-inning relief. John Kilichowski is very important to the team, and so is his health-- Corbin knows how to play that card well. We'll find out this weekend if he's back in full.
PK: LSU, until last weekend, has been in a bit of an offensive funk while having 8 new starters in the lineup. Vandy is currently batting .289 as a team to LSU's .296, but the Commodores have scored 46 more runs. What's Vandy's approach at the plate?
jg: Believe it or not, I'm very familiar with LSU's baseball program and recent history, as well as style of play. It's been disappointing for me to hear the "funk" the team's been in, but I don't count them out for putting on a good show this weekend. Commodores will have their hands full, but each team has their own style. The Vanderbilt lineup is patient and mature-- despite the youngsters starting. It's pretty incredible to me to see a bunch of young college students able to do what they do. Vanderbilt can seamlessly transition from hitting the long ball to going back to small ball-- I feel like most college teams hit their home runs in clusters. It's impressive to watch one guy go deep, and have the next three batters reaching scoring position from singles and hit-and-runs. The approach is mature, that's for sure. Not everybody's out trying to hit home runs.
PK: Last out and Vandy's down 1 with a man on. Who do you want at the plate?
jg: The cool thing about Vanderbilt is you can have any one of those guys at the plate and they could make some magic. Alonzo Jones, Will Toffey or Penn Murfee have been really effective lately, and Jason Delay and Tyler Campbell have had some magnificent hits to contribute as well. As for me, though, in that situation, I would take Bryan Reynolds. He's had some good opportunities with two outs that don't seem to phase him one bit. Most guys could get a little jittery with their hands in that situation, but I don't think any of the Vanderbilt guys would really let it get to them. Reynolds has a lot of experience with this team, and a lot of opportunities to show how reliable he can really be.