As SEC rivals, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State have had plenty of past baseball matchups, but the two schools have never played at the College World Series.
Until Tuesday, that is.
The Commodores and Bulldogs will both look to stay unbeaten at the College World Series when they face off in the second game of Tuesday's slate at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. Another SEC school, Auburn, is playing in the first game of the day against Louisville.
Only three teams have yet to lose at the College World Series—Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Michigan—while Arkansas is the only squad out of the eight teams to be eliminated thus far. Either Auburn or Louisville will become the second team to get eliminated on Tuesday.
This will be the 124th all-time meeting between Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, and the fourth to come in the NCAA tournament. The Commodores beat the Bulldogs 1-0 earlier this season in the SEC tournament.
Louisville vs. Auburn, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN (elimination game)
Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi State, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN
Games can be live-streamed on WatchESPN
Vandy Looks to Continue Strong Run
The Commodores notched their school-record 55th win of the season on Sunday, when they beat Louisville 3-1. Austin Martin hit two home runs and drove in all three of Vanderbilt's runs in the victory.
Now, they will turn to freshman right-hander Kumar Rocker (10-5, 3.50 ERA) to try to take down Mississippi State on Tuesday. The winner will get two days off and return to action Friday, while the loser will have to play an elimination game Thursday.
Rocker had one of the best starts in NCAA tournament history the last time he took the mound, as he pitched a no-hitter and struck out 19 in a 3-0 win over Duke in the Super Regionals on June 8. Now, he'll look to follow that outing with another impressive performance.
"He's just got to pitch," Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said, according to The Tennessean's Joe Rexrode. "I tell you the thing about him, he just wants to win. So he's just going to do the best he can. I know when you pitch like that one time there's a certain level of anticipation. But he'll handle it well."
Mississippi State has momentum entering its matchup against Vanderbilt. On Sunday, the Bulldogs erased a three-run deficit in the ninth inning, scoring four runs for a 5-4 walk-off victory over Auburn in their first game of this year's College World Series.
Right-hander Peyton Plumlee (7-4, 3.67 ERA) is scheduled to start for Mississippi State.
Auburn, Louisville Aim to Stave Off Elimination
Entering the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, it didn't seem like Auburn's next matchup would be an elimination game. Now, the Tigers will have to try to bounce back after their devastating loss to Mississippi State when they take on Louisville, which is coming off a defeat to Vanderbilt.
The Cardinals also lost a competitive game in their first College World Series contest, as they allowed only five hits against the Commodores, but two of those were homers that decided the game. Since the start of the NCAA tournament, Louisville had won six of its first seven games before its last loss, so it was a rare defeat that the Cardinals will be looking to rebound from.
"We just have to play with an edge, that’s just our style," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said, according to the Louisville Courier Journal's Cameron Teague Robinson. "You have to take it personal and both teams are playing for their seasons to extend. ... At the end of the day, you want to make sure you put it all on the line and play the way that we like to play and that’s with energy and a looseness."
While both the Tigers and Cardinals have played important games this season, especially over the last month, none will have had higher stakes than Tuesday's matchup. One team could still have a chance to win the national championship, while the other's season will be over.
The starters on the mound are scheduled to be Auburn's Bailey Horn (4-1, 6.03 ERA) and Louisville's Bobby Miller (7-1, 3.91 ERA).