by Barca Blog - College baseball experts thought Vanderbilt (33-24) had slipped from a NCAA Tournament lock to a bubble team after the Commodores were swept by Tennessee in the regular season finale last weekend at Hawkins Field.
The pressure was on to get a few wins at the SEC Tournament this week. If Vanderbilt had gone 0-2 in Hoover, their postseason case would have been on life support with six straight losses to end the season.
So with wins over LSU and South Carolina, are the 'Dores now a lock to make their fourth consecutive NCAA Regional? Head coach Tim Corbin thinks so.
"All I felt we needed to do was win a game or two to dignify why we were here," Corbin stated following Thursday's 5-4 win over the Gamecocks. "Once we dignified why we were here you say, ‘Okay, you beat LSU, you beat South Carolina, both teams ahead of us. Our RPI’s going to slide to the high 30’s.' You know, I’d hate to play us. You have to face (Mike) Minor and (Sonny) Gray."
The Commodores are currently 36th in Boyd's unofficial RPI. They have series wins over Florida (6th in RPI), Arkansas (12), and Georgia (19) and regular season victories over Louisville (21), Middle Tennessee (38) and Western Kentucky (40). Also, throw in wins over LSU (13) and South Carolina (25) in Hoover this week.
Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com believes the Commodores have done enough to merit a NCAA bid:
"It’s safe to say the Commodores will make an NCAA regional," Rogers wrote in his blog Friday. "Vandy took a step forward in its SEC tournament opener with a win over LSU. The ‘Dores likely finalized their postseason plans with a 5-4 win over South Carolina. In our eyes, Vandy now is a slam dunk to make the postseason."
While the Commodores had a letdown against the Vols, the team has responded with a chip on their shoulder with all the talk that they were lucky to be in Hoover as the eighth and final seed.
"We’ve heard a lot of people talking about how we backed into the (SEC) tournament," pitcher Chase Reid said, "but we don’t believe that. Our body of work got us here. We’ve had a lot of big games against top-25 teams and we just wanted to come here and prove we belong."