Previewing Vanderbilt

Gray

North Carolina returns to its familiar stomping ground of Omaha but will open the 2011 College World Series against Vanderbilt at a new venue -- the $130 million TD Ameritrade Park. Game time for the opener is set at 2pm EST on Saturday.

Game Time
Saturday, 2pm EST (ESPN/ESPN3.com)

QUOTABLES

"I would say this if we'd won one, two, three or four, I'm not going to let a national championship … be the ultimate definition of our program. Do we want to win one? Absolutely so. That's the ultimate goal and the ultimate prize, but it's not going to change anything." – UNC head coach Mike Fox

"I love my school, I really do. I love this university and I love this place and I love the people at it. But I don't love it as much as I do my family… I have two teams out there to root for. Most people just have one." – Vanderbilt basketball head coach Kevin Stallings, father of UNC catcher Jacob Stallings

"Our offense one through nine when it all works together, it's fun to watch. I think as you guys can see we've got some talented hitters. We have a good solid mix of lefties and righties, and we couldn't have picked a better time to get the bats going right now leading into Omaha." – Vanderbilt catcher Curt Casali

NOTES

Season to Date: No. 6 national seed Vanderbilt enters Saturday's College World Series opener with a 52-10 (25-9 SEC) record. Head coach Tim Corbin's program punched its first-ever ticket to Omaha by navigating a top-25 schedule. Seven of the Commodores losses occurred against participants in last weekend's Super Regional round. Vanderbilt owns an 18-9 record against RPI Top-25 opponents.

NCAA Tournament Results: The Commodores rolled through the Nashville Regional and Super Regional in impressive fashion, outscoring their opponents, 46-7, in five straight wins to reach Omaha. Vanderbilt swept Oregon State in Super Regional action with 11-1 and 9-3 victories.

Pitching Power: A staggering eight Vanderbilt pitchers were drafted nearly two weeks ago as the Commodores set a SEC record with 12 Major League selections. Six pitchers were picked in the first six rounds. Saturday starter Sonny Gray (12-3, 1.97 ERA) and Grayson Garvin (13-1, 2.36 ERA) were selected in the first round, Jack Armstrong (0-1, 2.65 ERA) and Corey Williams (1-0, 5.23 ERA) went in the third round and Taylor Hill (5-1, 2.84 ERA) and Mark Lamm (5-0, 2.03 ERA) were drafted in the sixth round. Closer Navery Moore (4-2, 1.21 ERA, 11 saves) was taken in the 14th round before Will Clinard (2-2, 3.03 ERA) closed out the pitching draft party in the 30th round.


Westlake
Balanced Attack: Vanderbilt's lineup includes five left-handed batters and four right-handed batters. Corbin plays to those tendencies by alternating left-right-left throughout his batting order. The approach has paid off as five Commodores are batting .340 or higher – Jason Esposito (.357, 9 HR, 59 RBI), Aaron Westlake (.353, 17 HR, 54 RBI), Conrad Gregor (.350, 30 RBI), Riley Reynolds (.346, 18 RBI) and Anthony Gomez (.343, 45 RBI).

Just the Stats: Vanderbilt ranks fifth nationally in batting average (.319), sixth in hits (682), 11th in runs (442), 27th in home runs (47) and T-43rd in base on balls (249). Defensively, the Commodores rank third nationally in earned run average (2.38), fourth in hits allowed (7.11), fourth in strikeouts per nine innings (8.7) and 43rd in fielding percentage (.973).

All-Americans: Gray, Garvin, Esposito and Westlake were named second-team All-Americas by Baseball America on Wednesday. Gray earned first team honors from Perfect Game, while Esposito and Westlake were tabbed second-team All-Americans. Garvin also picked up second team honors from Louisville Slugger.

Series History: Saturday's game marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs.

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