OMAHA, Neb. – The strength of the Southeastern Conference is nothing new.
But this year they’ve outdone anything the sport has ever seen.
The conference is guaranteed to have three of the remaining four teams at the 2011 College World Series following Vanderbilt’s 5-1 win Wednesday evening against North Carolina. It is the first time in the history of the CWS that three teams from the same conference will make up the final four teams remaining in Omaha.
|2011 CWS Quick Reference Guide|
|CWS Broadcast Schedule|
|CWS Radio: Westwood One Broadcast|
|Latest Features: Cavs’ pitching trio holds off Golden Bears | Emanuel keeps Longhorns on heels|
|Latest Notebooks: Stadium Firsts | Wingo comes up big once again|
|Go Inside the CWS|
|Stats: Postseason | Division I Leaders|
|Video: Postseason | Remembering Rosenblatt|
|CWS Bracket: Printable | Interactive|
|Division I Championship History|
Even more impressive, the three teams hail from the Eastern Division. Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt have combined for a 6-1 record at TD Ameritrade Park – with the Gators and Gamecocks each sitting at 2-0 and waiting to play Friday in their respective brackets.
“That’s something that I haven’t seen in the NCAA in the nine years that I’ve been there with Florida, South Carolina and Vanderbilt being there at the beginning and being there at the end and all showing up here in Omaha, I think that’s an anomaly,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “We got a chance to obviously play Sully’s group four times and Ray’s group four times, and playing them both in the regular season, at least I felt that they were going to end up here at some point. We were just hoping we could get as many teams in as possible from our conference.”
The conference has sent that many teams before. The SEC has had at least three participants on six occasions — 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2004, and 2011. This is the tenth time in CWS history that featured at least three teams from the same conference, and the first since the ACC had three in 2008.
The Commodores stayed alive behind Taylor Hill’s 125 pitch performance, seven-inning performance. Hill improved to 6-1 with the victory, as the Vanderbilt starters are now 39-6 this season. The righthander allowed only four hits and one run while striking out four in his first appearance in two weeks.
Vanderbilt’s bullpen took over from there, not allowing a run for the third game in a row – a span of 9.1 innings – and have combined to strike out 10 and allow three hits. Corey Williams has appeared in all three games and has not allowed a run in 5.2 innings of work, including two hitless frames Wednesday.
California and Virginia will vie for the right to be the only non-SEC team remaining on Thursday night in an elimination game beginning at 7 p.m. ET.
Noting the CWS
• The nine College World Series games have averaged 2 hours, 58 minutes this season, which is on pace to be the first CWS to average less than three hours per game since 2003. Six of the nine games have been under three hours, including Wednesday’s game which took 2 hours, 41 minutes.
• North Carolina-Vanderbilt played the first errorless game at the 2011 CWS. The last time there was an error-free game at the CWS was June 22, 2010, between South Carolina and Arizona State.
• There have been seven triples in the 2011 CWS, the most since there were eight triples in the 2008 CWS. Vanderbilt’s Tony Kemp has two of them, and it marks the first time a player has had two triples in the CWS since Stanford’s Cord Phelps in 2008. The left fielder is the 34th player to have a pair of triples. The CWS record for triples is three, held by Mississippi’s Buddy Chain in 1966, Missouri’s Sonny Siebert in 1958, and Southern California’s Arthur Ersepke in 1960.
• The two home runs by Vanderbilt tied the TD Ameritrade Park record, set two previous times. The last was on May 24 by Missouri State against Southern Illinois in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament.