Nine innings stand between Texas and Vanderbilt and the 2014 College World Series Finals.
Nine innings stood between the Commodores and finals on Friday, too. While the Longhorns had lost their first game in the double-elimination tournament, Vanderbilt hadn't lost at all. So if it would've won on Friday, it would've clinched a spot in the finals.
But Texas dominated. It shutout the Commodores by the score of 4-0 to force a semifinal rematch. Here's how to watch this rematch.
When: Saturday, June 21 at 8 p.m. ET
Vanderbilt can't be confident entering its second go-round with the Longhorns.
Before Friday, no one's offense had been more dominant in Omaha, Nebraska, than the Commodores'. They defeated Louisville by the score of 5-3 and UC Irvine, 6-4.
Their 11 runs were more than any other ballclub had scored in Omaha, even ones like Texas and Mississippi, which had played three games entering the semifinals. But Vanderbilt's outstanding offense overshadowed its mediocre defense. And when the Longhorns pitching staff overwhelmed the Commodores' bats, it exposed Vanderbilt's weakness on the mound.
This weakness isn't new either.
As a team, the Commodores have allowed 3.18 earned runs per game this postseason. Vanderbilt typically has no problem scoring over 3.18 runs in a game. However, it typically doesn't play defenses as phenomenal as Texas', which has allowed just 1.09 earned runs per game this postseason.
Texas vs. Vanderbilt pits strength against strength, pitching against hitting. On Friday, the pitching won.
The Longhorns' loss in Omaha came when UC Irvine beat them 3-1 (and it took until the eighth inning for the Anteaters to score). For the Commodores to bounce back, they must try to turn the game into a slugfest. Against a Texas team that has allowed one run in the last 28 innings of play, that's easier said than done, though.
And even then, while the Longhorns' hitting has been pitiful, they scored four runs in two out of their last three games. As impressive as Vanderbilt has been throughout the postseason, due to the worst possible matchup, it'd be a surprise if it won.
David Daniels is a columnist at Bleacher Report. He tweets, too.
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