Vanderbilt controls its bracket at the CWS — but Tim Corbin says Commodores have 'long way to go'

Commodores coach Tim Corbin prefers to look ahead rather than at what Vanderbilt has accomplished so far.

As the only undefeated team in its CWS bracket, Vanderbilt is in the driver’s seat.

But don’t mention that to coach Tim Corbin.

“We’ve won two games,” he said. “But to accomplish our goal, we still have a long way to go.”

The Commodores, who defeated Louisville on Sunday and Mississippi State on Wednesday, will play Louisville in Game 12 of the series at 6 p.m. Friday. If Vanderbilt loses, there is another game at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Corbin’s squad entered the CWS as one of the pretournament favorites, boasting a roster that included 10 players with at least 40 hits. The 56-11 Commodores also have a lineup featuring first-team All-Americans Austin Martin and JJ Bleday.

Vanderbilt, seeking its second national title, began the CWS with a 3-1 win over the Cardinals. That was followed by a 6-3 victory over the Bulldogs behind a strong start from Kumar Rocker.

But Corbin prefers to look ahead rather than at what Vanderbilt has accomplished so far.

“Everyone is here for a reason, and everyone is dangerous,” he said. “You need to be focused on your next opponent.”

Vanderbilt didn’t know its next foe until late Thursday night when Louisville eliminated Mississippi State 4-3.

Though the Commodores weren’t at the CWS last year, Corbin is well aware that Oregon State won the 2018 title after losing its first game. The Beavers bounced back to win consecutive games over Mississippi State to advance to the final, where they defeated Arkansas.

“Again, I don’t feel like we’re in the driver’s seat,” the coach said. “But I am pleased with the way we’ve controlled our emotions and our adrenaline.”

Corbin, in his 17th season as coach, said he wasn’t certain who would pitch Friday but was leaning toward Mason Hickman. The sophomore is 8-0 and leads the team with a 2.23 ERA.

Just as Vanderbilt is the only unbeaten team in this bracket, Michigan is undefeated in the other. Corbin said that also hasn’t escaped his attention, with his former assistant Erik Bakich coaching the Wolverines.

“We’re mostly focused on our bracket,” he said. “But you also want to have an understanding of those other teams.”

After watching his team practice on its off day Thursday, Corbin added that he wants his Commodores to enjoy the moment.

“Nothing is like Omaha,” he said. “It’s a great experience and one I’m sure they’ll never forget.”

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Mike covers high school sports, primarily volleyball in the fall, girls basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring and summer. He also reports on horse racing for The World-Herald. Follow him on Twitter @MPattersonOWH. Phone: 402-444-1350.

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