by Barca Blog (with SID notes) - For the fourth time in six seasons under head coach Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt has advanced to the conference championship game.
So what has been the key ingredient to winning in Hoover?
"Pitching and defense," Corbin stated. "In this ballpark that’s all we talk about, pitching and defense. I’m really proud of how we’ve played defense and pitched more than anything."
The starting pitching trio of Mike Minor (9.0), Sonny Gray (7.0), and Caleb Cotham (7.2) have combined to throw 23.2 of a total 25.0 innings so far in the Commodores' three victories this week. They have a combined ERA of 2.35 with 23 strikeouts and seven walks in that span.
Vanderbilt has been sound defensively as well, playing error-free ball for all three games in the tournament.
While VU took home the title in 2007 as the top seed and favorite, this time around they did it the hard way as the eighth and final seed. The 'Dores are trying to become the first team in that spot to win the championship.
Corbin reflected on what it means to make it to another finale in Hoover.
"I just like the tournament a lot. You’re a part of the country’s top conference and to have a chance to win the tournament of that conference is a big deal. There are just not a lot of kids that participate in the 12 schools that get the opportunity to do it. And frankly, we’ve been a part of that the past few years. To have the opportunity to be nine innings away from winning your conference’s title in a tournament, that’s a big deal. Those kids will remember those things forever as well as the coaches. Hopefully we’ll be able to play well."
Vanderbilt will face top seed LSU at noon CT today. Follow the action on vucommodores.com.