College World Series: Vanderbilt 5, UNC 1
By Eric Olson
OMAHA, Neb. ó Now comes the really hard part for Vanderbilt.
The Commodores extended their first appearance at the College World Series with a 5-1 victory over North Carolina on Wednesday night.
Their reward is another game against Southeastern Conference rival Florida, which has beaten them in four of five meetings this season.
ěWeíre not thinking, ëHow the heck can we beat Florida?í Itís not really in the back of our minds at all,î Connor Harrell said. ěWe feel we can compete with them. We feel we match up with them well, but weíll see what happens on Friday. Weíre going to come in confident.î
As well they should after their second CWS win over North Carolina.
Taylor Hill and Corey Williams combined on four-hitter and Harrell and Curt Casali homered for the Commodores (54-11), who led 5-0 in the third inning.
Vanderbilt, which lost 3-1 to Florida on Tuesday, would need to beat the Gators on Friday and again Saturday to reach next weekís best-of-three finals.
Hill (6-1) outdueled Greg Holt (7-2) in a matchup of Washington Nationals draft picks.
Hill, taken in the sixth round, allowed a run and four hits in seven innings in his first outing since June 5.
ěHe did a good job of neutralizing their offense and got us deep into the ball game where we could put Corey in,î Vandy coach Tim Corbin said. ěConnorís home run was big and followed up by Curtis. We did enough offensively to get by.î
Holt, an eighth-rounder who was making his second start of the season, lasted 2 2-3 innings. He gave up five runs and four hits, leaving after Casaliís homer.
North Carolina (51-16) left nine runners on base for the second straight game and stranded a total of 34 in its three CWS games. The Tar Heels were just 7 for 39 with runners in scoring position.
ěThatís probably what will be written about,î Carolina coach Mike Fox said. ěWe left a lot of people on base out here for three games, but a lot of that has to do with the other team, and we were facing some pretty good arms. It didnít happen for us.î
The Tar Heels couldnít advance a runner past first base after they scored in the fifth.
Hill worked out of trouble that inning after Ben Buntingís bases-loaded RBI groundout left first base open.
Hill intentionally walked All-America Colin Moran with two outs to face Jacob Stallings, who had doubled in his first two at-bats. Stallings fouled off an 0-2 pitch barely outside the left-field line, then swung and missed at a fastball.
ěI was just going to give it everything I had,î Hill said. ěIf he hit it, he hit it. But thank goodness he didnít.î
Fox said the fifth inning was deflating.
ěYouíre down four and you have the bases loaded and youíre thinking to yourself one swing of the bat, ball in the gap and weíre right back in the game and we get the momentum in our dugout,î Fox said. ěThey were in that situation several times while we were out here, and it just didnít happen for us.î
Williams came on to start the eighth and has pitched 5 2-3 scoreless innings in three CWS appearances.
Harrellís three-run homer, aided by a 23 mph wind, put Vanderbilt up 4-0 in the second inning. It was his second in three games here and ninth of the season.
The Commodores opened the scoring when Tony Kemp led off the game with a triple into the right-center gap and scored on a sacrifice fly.
North Carolina made it to the CWS for the fifth time in six years.
ěYou know, we werenít a very good team last year, and then to turn around like this and have such a great year with 50 wins, itís a testament to our leadership,î Stallings said. ěObviously, we were happy to get here, but once we were here I think we wish we would have played a little better.î