You know how it seems everything is connected to Western New York in one way or another? It also extends to the Nashville Regional in the NCAA Tournament. The finals Monday will come with a local flare.
Radford will play Vanderbilt in an elimination game at 4 p.m. Monday, which means childhood baseball buddies and former Williamsville North standouts Kyle Zurak and Tyler Green will be in opposite dugouts. Radford is coached by Joe Raccuia, the former Canisius High star.
Raccuia guided the Highlanders to their best season in school history. Radford (45-15) was ranked 18th nationally going into the NCAAs. It lost the tournament opener against Indiana before winning the rematch in the loser’s bracket to reach the final.
Zurak is a middle relief pitcher for Radford. The sophomore right-hander appeared in 12 games this season and had a 3.18 ERA for the Highlanders. He pitched one inning in a 7-1 loss to Indiana to start the tournament.
Green is a reserve first baseman for Vanderbilt, undefeated in double-elimination tournament play. The redshirt freshman, who is 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, batted .263 in 15 games. He has not appeared in a tournament game for the Commodores, who had a 44-19 record going into the regional finals.
If Radford wins this afternoon, the two teams will have a rematch later Monday. If Vanderbilt wins either game, it will reach the Super Regional. The afternoon game will be carried by SEC Network.