The 2011 College World Series got underway on Saturday and the SEC continued its baseball dominance as it advanced two teams into the winners' bracket of the eight team field in Omaha. The Vanderbilt Commodores came back from a 3-2 deficit to defeat the North Carolina Tarheels 7-3, and the Florida Gators defeated the Texas Longhorns 8-4. Vanderbilt will face Florida in the winners' bracket and UNC will face Texas in the losers' bracket, with the loser of the latter eliminated from the tournament. The SEC has three teams in the eight-team CWS field, including the 2010 national champion South Carolina Gamecocks.
Vanderbilt starter Sonny Gray struggled in the opener as he left the game in the fifth inning, trailing 3-2 after giving up eight hits and three walks. However, Vanderbilt's offense got him off the hook as they scored three runs in the sixth inning and two more in the eighth. Conrad Gregor hit an RBI double in the sixth and was followed by a two-run homer by Connor Harrell. Tony Kemp and Anthony Gomez each added RBI singles in the eighth to secure the final lead.
Texas jumped on top of Florida 3-0 thanks to two errors, two singles, and a sacrifice fly. However, Florida quickly rallied as they scored two runs in the third inning, two more in the fourth and one in the fifth. Bryson Smith was key for the Gators but the team received contributions from throughout the lineup as five different hitters drove in runs. Hudson Randall threw 6 2/3 innings for Florida and Nick Maronde slammed the door with two perfect innings to secure the victory.
The four teams will be back in action on Monday June 20. Texas and North Carolina will meet at 11:00am pacific on ESPN. Florida and Vanderbilt will follow that up at 4:00pm pacific on ESPN2.