There are 32 NCAA baseball games today (plus the NAIA World Series championship game) as postseason play roars to life, but only a couple of them are going to have anything to do with Xavier. The Muskies are opening their play in the Nashville regional (our quick capsules on each team can be found here) in the evening game, but game one will begin this afternoon. We've got TV info and probable starters for both games listed below, and we'll be in the comments all evening as Xavier looks to get things rolling with a huge upset of Vandy.
Game 1: #2 UCSB v. #3 Washington (3pm ET)
Probable starters: Shane Bieber (11-3, 2.96 ERA) v. Noah Bremer (4-5, 3.17 ERA)
These are just my best guesses at the starters; each of them was the top of the rotation guy for his respective team, and I don't see any reason either coach would throw off in game one. Both teams did a lot more pitching than they did scoring during the regular season, so whoever gets a couple on the board first could have the opponent chasing the game the rest of the way.
Game 2: #1 Vanderbilt v. #4 Xavier (8pm ET)
Probable starters: Jordan Sheffield (8-5, 2.73 ERA) v. Zac Lowther (6-5, 3.22 ERA)
If you're jonesing for some Xavier college action on the television, have no fear. Xavier baseball and Louisville Slugger third team All-American shortstop Andre Jernigan take on Vanderbilt at 8pm on ESPN3. If you have ESPN on your television, or have a generous friend who does, you have access to ESPN3 online. Xavier's goal this weekend is to, essentially, not lose twice and then hope the chips fall correctly for them.
As mentioned in our preview of this weekend's action, and pretty well known to anyone who even tangentially follows college baseball, Vanderbilt is a tough ask to start things off. These two teams faced off back in March with the same two starters throwing in game one of that series. Sheffield struck out 12 and carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning while Lowther went six and gave up five runs to get the loss. In that three-game series, Vandy swept the Muskies and outscored X 26-5. In other words, Xavier has lulled the opponent into a sense of complacency and should be ready to strike when the game starts tonight.
Lowther, yet another Xavier player who hails from Cleveland, got knocked around a bit in his last start against St. John's but had only allowed three runs in his 15 innings before that. Sheffield lost his last decision after allowing nine runs, five earned, in a start against Ole Miss in the SEC conference tournament on May 25th.
UPDATE: All of this is sadly, contingent on how Vanderbilt handles their latest student-athlete tragedy. Pitcher Donny Everett died last night in a swimming accident in Coffee County, Tennessee. Everett was out with friends and attempted to swim from the west side of a bridge on Normandy Lake to the east side of the same bridge area. Everett indicated that he was in trouble but, despite the help of his friends, foundered only 15 from shore. Vanderbilt's freshman was only 19 years old.