Five down, three to go at the 2015 College World Series Super Regionals. The weekend saw Florida, Miami, Arkansas, Virginia and LSU advance to Omaha, while the remaining series head into Monday night on the precipice of ending.
Louisville and Vanderbilt will kick off the evening of games with Game 2 of their regional matchup. Vanderbilt was scheduled to go for the knockout blow Sunday night, but inclement weather halted proceedings by a day.
Cal State Fullerton-Louisville and TCU-Texas A&M will be heading into their deciding third game, with both series having survived one extra-innings contest.
With that in mind, let's take a look at each matchup and pick favorites heading into what should be a marquee night in college baseball.
Illinois vs. Vanderbilt (Vanderbilt Leads, 1-0)
Time: 4 p.m. ET
A rainstorm washed out Sunday's planned Game 2, so the winner of this series will be a day behind its counterparts unless Vanderbilt can pull off the sweep. The Commodores took a 1-0 series lead in their dominant 13-0 triumph in Game 1.
Carson Fulmer went 6.1 shutout innings, and Vanderbilt pelted Illini starter Kevin Duchene for seven runs in his four innings of work. The win snapped Illinois' 19-game home winning streak and put the national No. 9 seed in severe danger of being sent packing.
“We just didn’t play well,” Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said, per the Associated Press (via the Washington Post). “We walked guys, we hit guys and we made errors. We have to move forward, and we will tomorrow. No one in that dugout was panicking.”
The Illini will be going to their best player with the season on the line, as ace Tyler Jay will take the mound. Jay has posted a 5-1 record with a 0.60 ERA this season and is expected to be a first-round pick during Monday's MLB draft. He'll go against Philip Pfeifer, who has struggled for most of the season, posting a 4.21 ERA.
Jay will have an opportunity to go against big league talent in Vanderbilt shortstop Dansby Swanson, who may wind up being the top overall selection. If Vanderbilt manages to win, Monday could be the biggest night in Swanson's young life.
As it stands, the defending champions are in a good position to advance with two opportunities remaining.
Cal State Fullerton vs. Louisville (Series Tied 1-1)
Time: 7 p.m. ET
You have to give it to Louisville: It got the job done when it needed to. Following the heartbreak of a 10-inning loss in Game 1, the Cardinals came roaring back with a dominant 9-3 win in Game 2. Logan Taylor had three hits and three RBI, while freshman starter Brendan McKay turned in an excellent outing to keep Louisville alive.
"We weren't ready to be done," first baseman Danny Rosenbaum said, per Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal. "This is one of my favorite teams I've been on, and all I could think about was I don't want to end it here."
Louisville will turn the ball over to Josh Rogers on Monday. Rogers has twice won elimination games during his collegiate career, and he'll again be on the bump with everything on the line in Game 3. The lefty is 8-1 with a 3.53 ERA, but that lone loss came to Fullerton during the regular season.
Fullerton will be banking on freshman Connor Seabold, who has posted a 5-3 record with a 2.93 ERA thus far. Seabold has answered the bell every time he's been given an opportunity all season, so it'll be interesting to see how he does when the lights are brightest.
Should Louisville lose, it'd be a disappointing result for a team many pegged as a national championship contender. Given Fullerton's rich history of coming through in the summer months, though, this could be another game that comes down to the final pitch.
TCU vs. Texas A&M (Series Tied 1-1)
Time: 8 p.m. ET
After getting blasted by TCU in Game 1, Texas A&M did just enough to force a Game 3 on Sunday. The Aggies outlasted the No. 7 overall seed in 10 innings, winning on a Blake Allemand sacrifice fly in the bottom of the frame.
TCU had forced extra innings in the ninth with its own sacrifice fly off Ryan Hendrix. Texas A&M starter Matt Kent was brilliant in shutting down the Horned Frogs offense, throwing 7.2 shutout innings while striking out six.
"It's all either team could ask for, you've got a nine-inning game for a chance to punch a ticket to Omaha," Aggies coach Rob Childress said, per the Associated Press (via USA Today). "You couldn't ask for anything better than this."
"We've been to Omaha twice at TCU, and both times we've won the first one, lost the second and did OK in the third," Schlossnagle said.