by SID - Vanderbilt and Middle Tennessee will meet for the fourth time this season with the stakes on this game being the highest it has ever been. The winner advances into the regional finals, while the loser's season is done.
The Blue Raiders lead the season series 2-1 by virtue of their 5-4 win over Vanderbilt on Friday.
As Barca Blog earlier reported Caleb Cotham (6-5, 4.63 ERA) is going for the Commodores, while Middle Tennessee is sending right-hander Chad Edwards (8-1, 5.99 ERA) to the bump. Edwards has the distinction of being the only pitcher to shutout the Commodores this year in a 8-0 decision on April 7. VU could only manage three hits with three walks, while Edwards struck out three in a 126 pitch complete game performance.
Was Edwards' shutout more of an aberration than the norm as his overall numbers would indicate? An 8-1 record with a six ERA likely means that MTSU's lineup produced a lot of runs when he was on the mound, with his start against Vanderbilt his lone complete game of the year. Opponents are hitting .335 off of him and he has just 40 strikeouts with 15 walks in 67.2 innings. While the Commodores didn't have much success against him the first time, a second look could provide a much different result.
If Vanderbilt is to advance to its fourth regional final appearance in five NCAA trips under Tim Corbin, it will need to get the momentum early and not let Edwards get comfortable on the mound. As the team showed in Saturday's 10-0 win over Indiana, an early lead gives the team more confidence and it carries throughout the game.
Neither team wants to call it a season so this afternoon's game will be one with a lot of intensity and emotion.