JOE BIDDLE: Tim Corbin is complete package for Commodores - WKRN News 2

JOE BIDDLE: Tim Corbin is complete package for Commodores

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While Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin gets most of the media attention and accolades among all the Commodores coaches, I'll take baseball coach Tim Corbin as the best coach on campus.

Franklin has worked wonders his first two years, but I want to see more of a sample size before I place him above Corbin.

Corbin is in his 11th season and resurrected a program that frankly didn't have much of a pulse when Corbin was enticed to leave Clemson University as an assistant to replace the retiring Roy Mewbourne at Vanderbilt.

As the Commodores defeated Alabama Thursday in the first of a regular-season ending three-game series, they were ranked No. 1 in all five national college baseball polls. They have lost only six times this season and are 25-2 inside the SEC.

While Franklin's football team plays in what is the toughest conference in that sport, the SEC is also considered the best conference in the country for baseball.

In Baseball America's weekly poll, you find six SEC teams in the top 25. In the USA Today coaches' poll, five SEC teams are in the top 16 spots.

It is the fourth time in Vanderbilt history to be first in the country, previously occurring twice in 2007 and once in 2011. All of those teams belonged to Corbin.

Unlike Franklin, Corbin's teams have beaten the top echelon team in the SEC. Perhaps Franklin will get there in time. If his recruiting success is any indication, he will. But he has yet to knock off one of the SEC top teams, despite back-to-back bowl seasons and a nine-win season a year ago.

While Franklin needs his program to take that next step, Corbin's next step is to taste more success in the College World Series. His lone appearance was in 2011.

This year's team could be the one to not only make it to Omaha, but to be the last team standing.

It may be Corbin's best team when you consider what makes up a winning team. They don't appear to have many holes. With their hitting picking up recently, a team has to catch Vanderbilt on an off night to beat it.

They boast a team batting average of .320 and a team ERA of 2.57. That's strong as 12 feet of well rope.

In pint-sized Tony Kemp, Corbin has one of college baseball's best all-around position players. The (Franklin) Centennial

High product has played outfield and now anchors second base.

His .411 batting average is tied for sixth best in the most recent NCAA statistics. Kemp is tied for eighth with 83 hits, 12th with a .498 on-base percentage. His 27 stolen bases ties him for 15th best and his 55 runs scored puts him tied for 16th in the country.

If Kemp is not a Golden Spikes candidate, then I guess I don't know what one looks like.

Yet when you look at Baseball America's top position prospects for the upcoming June draft, Kemp is No. 217, best among Vandy's position players. Outfielder Connor Harrell is No. 231 and senior outfielder Mike Yastrzemski is 248.

Sophomore right-hander Tyler Beede and junior southpaw Kevin Ziomek anchor the pitching staff with a combined record of 23-2. Beede has a record 13-0 season with a 1.73 ERA. Beede is Vandy's top draft prospect, with Baseball America putting him at No. 51. The fact he throws from the south side doesn't hurt.

Corbin doesn't go beyond the next game when peering into the future. He knows they will be one of the favorites to be a top seed in Omaha. First, there is the SEC Tournament next week, then NCAA regional play.

This has been a break-out regular season for Corbin and his program. Their only College World Series trip was in 2011 and it was a learning experience.

It's time to put those lessons to use and this is a team that can do it.

Contact wkrn.com Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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