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Vanderbilt lefty Kevin Ziomek awaits MLB draft, Louisville in Super Regional

  • Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the sixth inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn.

    Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the sixth inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Vanderbilt's Kevin Ziomek pitches in the first inning of a Southeastern Conference tournament college baseball game against South Carolina at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala., Thursday, May 23, 2013.

    Vanderbilt's Kevin Ziomek pitches in the first inning of a Southeastern Conference tournament college baseball game against South Carolina at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala., Thursday, May 23, 2013. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the sixth inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

    Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the sixth inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the first inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

    Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the first inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Vanderbilt's Kevin Ziomek pitches in the first inning of a Southeastern Conference tournament college baseball game against South Carolina at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala., Thursday, May 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

    Vanderbilt's Kevin Ziomek pitches in the first inning of a Southeastern Conference tournament college baseball game against South Carolina at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala., Thursday, May 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the first inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn.

    Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the first inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. Purchase photo reprints »

  • Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the sixth inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn.
  • Vanderbilt's Kevin Ziomek pitches in the first inning of a Southeastern Conference tournament college baseball game against South Carolina at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala., Thursday, May 23, 2013.
  • Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the sixth inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
  • Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the first inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
  • Vanderbilt's Kevin Ziomek pitches in the first inning of a Southeastern Conference tournament college baseball game against South Carolina at the Hoover Met in Hoover, Ala., Thursday, May 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
  • Vanderbilt pitcher Kevin Ziomek throws to an East Tennessee State batter in the first inning of an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game Friday, May 31, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn.

Kevin Ziomek has been in this situation before.

Three years ago, the Vanderbilt left-hander was in the process of leading the Amherst Regional baseball team to a state championship, when he took a mid-day break, sat at Rafters Sports Bar in Amherst with family and friends and watched the Major League Baseball June Amateur Draft.

Ziomek didn’t see himself get drafted. It wasn’t until later in the day when he received a phone call at practice that he was taken with the 391st pick in the 13th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Ziomek is eligible again for the draft and this time he’s leading a baseball team to what he hopes is an NCAA championship. The draft begins Thursday with the first two rounds and continues through Saturday. Vanderbilt opens its three-game Super Regional series against Louisville in Nashville, Tenn., at 3 p.m. Saturday. Ziomek, who earned the Friday night starter’s role for the Commodores during the regular season, is the likely starter.

“To be honest I haven’t put too much thought into” the draft, Ziomek said Tuesday. “It’s there looming but the only thing I’m thinking about is our postseason. I think that’s the only way you can go about it. You can’t really get caught up in the draft stuff too much. I’ll probably end up watching it but at the same time we may have practice or something. I’m just thinking about the weekend right now and getting ready for Louisville on Saturday afternoon. That’s the only thing you can think about because if you think about the other stuff you can get into trouble.”

In high school, Ziomek let professional teams know that Vanderbilt was his No. 1 option. If a team wanted him, it had to make a strong offer and take him early in the draft. It’s a major reason he fell to the 13th round. According to publications and draft pundits, this year Ziomek is likely to be drafted during the first three rounds.

With one more year of eligibility left and 19 hours shy of a business degree, Ziomek is keeping his options open while taking advantage of Vanderbilt’s MLB connections.

“As I matured as a kid, I’ve kind of learned just talking to some of the older guys who’ve been through this already, who’ve been through the program and now they’re playing professional baseball. They’ve given me a lot of the advice and all the guys a lot of advice,” Ziomek said. “You need to understand that the draft and all that professional baseball stuff is out of your hands right now. The best thing to do is focus on playing the game of baseball and try to win a championship and everything else will take care of itself.”

Vanderbilt (54-10), the No. 2 national seed, enters its game against Louisville (49-12) with one of the best 1-2 pitching combinations in Division I. Ziomek is 11-2 with a 1.92 ERA. He has struck out 111 and walked 38 over 112 1∕3 innings. Tyler Beede of Auburn is 14-0 with a 2.20 ERA. He has fanned 101 and walked 60 over 98 1∕3 innings. Beede was named a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, which is given to the nation’s best player.

“We have a really good relationship off the field and I think that really leads to some success on the field because we trust each other,” Ziomek said. “And not only us too, but the whole pitching staff, the whole team. We trust each other so much. I feel like anytime someone has a bad outing or a bad game at the plate we’re able to pick each other up.

“Having guys behind you will help you out,” he added. “You can know that you don’t have to go out there and do the whole thing yourself. You don’t have to strike out everybody. You don’t have to go in there and throw a perfect game every time out because there are guys behind you that are going to have your back. A big part of our success this year is how much chemistry we have as a team.”

If Vanderbilt can get past Louisville, it would return to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. Ziomek was a reliever when the Commodores reached the world series two years ago. He hopes the experience pays off.

“Anybody can win a game in the regular season but when you get to the postseason you have to play with a lot of confidence and be mature on the field,” Ziomek said. “There’s going to be a lot of things that go your way and there’s a lot of things that can go against you. You can mess up a bunt, make an error in the field or strike out but you have to stay confident and understand that the little parts of the game do not necessarily have a huge outcome on the final result.

“You have to stay strong, keep pushing through it and know that the guys around you are going to help you out,” he added. “That’s what a lot of us older guys who’ve been through it and been to Omaha before are trying to stress to the younger guys.”

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com.

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