For Vanderbilt (50-10), the Super Regional concludes a week that saw twelve of their players drafted in the MLB Draft, including Sonny Gray and Grayson Garvin, who were selected in the first round. The goal for the Commodores will be keeping those distractions out of their mind as they face an Oregon State (41-17) team that has been one of Division I’s most successful in the post-season since 2006.
Vanderbilt will start Gray on the mound Friday night, while Oregon State will start Sam Gaviglio. Oregon State’s pitching situation is currently in flux, as number 2 starter Josh Osich is out for the series with back and shoulder issues. Osich was pulled from the Beavers’ Sunday game against Georgia in only his second inning. Because of Osich’s absence, who Oregon State is putting up against Vanderbilt’s Garvin on Saturday is yet to be announced.
Last weekend Oregon State bounced back from a disappointing end to the Pac-10 season, where they went 1-5 in their last six games. The Beavers beat University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Creighton and Georgia to advance to the Super Regionals. Gaviglio was named the regional’s Most Outstanding Player after pitching a complete game against Creighton last Saturday and striking out 11 batters. Senior catcher Parker Berberet had a solo home run in the Regional Championship game against Georgia last weekend, and went 2 for 2 in that game. Junior Brian Stamps also contributed at the plate last weekend, with 2 hits on Saturday and a solo homer Sunday.
Vanderbilt won’t only be bringing just their top pitchers to the mound, but a team that has the offensive punch as well. Jason Esposito is hot at plate, with a double, homer and RBI last Sunday against Belmont. Freshman outfielder Tony Kemp and junior second baseman Riley Reynolds also have shown up several times on the scoresheet recently, with Reynolds recording two hits in three games last weekend, and Kemp with 2 RBIs Saturday and a wide variety of spectacular offensive plays throughout the weekend.
While Oregon State is making it a tradition of being in the upper echelon of Division I baseball in June, Vanderbilt is playing for their first ever berth in the College World Series. Both teams have been somewhat inconsistent at times during the season, so motivation and concentration may end up being the biggest factor as to who wins this weekend.