|Photo Courtesy AP Photo / Nati Harnik|
Competing in the program's first-ever College World Series, Vanderbilt (54-11) beat North Carolina (51-16) for the second time in the 2011 edition of the CWS to advance.
The Commodores dropped the Tar Heels to the loser's bracket in the opening game in Omaha last week with a 7-3 victory, and a second loss for the Tar Heels eliminated them Wednesday night in front of a large crowd at TD Ameritrade Park.
As if North Carolina's exit wasn't hard enough to swallow for the Carolina Blue-clad fanbase, a few post-elimination statistics provided insult to injury.
The Tar Heels, whom many thought would make a run to the championship series, left 34 runners on base in its three CWS games and were just 7-39 with runners in scoring position.
Vanderbilt got off to a quick start in the bottom of the first inning when Tony Kemp tripled to deep right center.
Anthony Gomez's sacrifice pop-fly sent Kemp home to give the Commodores a 1-0 lead.
Mike Yastrzemski singled to right center in the bottom of the third and stole second base before Conrad Gregor walked, leaving runners at first and second.
Connor Harrell then belted a three-run homer to left field to give Vanderbilt a 4-0 lead.
The Commodores' Curt Casali brought the crowd from Nashville to its feet with a single home run to left field in the next inning to close out Vanderbilt's scoring.
Despite threatening a comeback in the fifth inning, North Carolina managed just one run, and it would be its only run all night.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the fifth, senior Tar Heel Ben Bunting grounded out to first, but not before freshman Brian Holberton tagged and scored from third to wipe the goose egg off the scoreboard for the Tar Heels.
Vandy's Taylor Hill (6-1) picked up the win, while North Carolina's Greg Holt (7-2), who left the game in the third inning after Casali's home run made it 5-0, took home the loss.
The Commodores face SEC foe Florida (52-17) Friday afternoon for the second time in this year's CWS, hoping to avenge a 3-1 loss to the Gators yesterday.
Vanderbilt must beat Florida twice to advance to next week's best-of-three finals series. -TS