Vanderbilt finds itself in a familiar position at the Louisville Regional after Saturday's 7-1 loss: looking up.
It will take three wins in two days to get to a Super Regional now, but the Commodores had their backs against the wall last season and forced a championship game against Louisville.
"We've got to go through this tournament," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. "It can be done. It's a little more difficult road."
With both teams' seasons on the line, the Commodores will again face Illinois State, who eliminated St. Louis earlier on Saturday. The winner will then be forced to sweep two games from the Cardinals to reach the Super Regional.
Vanderbilt won a 13-inning thriller against the Redbirds on Friday and has come out on top both times they've met in 2010.
"It's going to present a challenge tomorrow," Corbin said. "We've seen enough of them to understand what they can do and what they can't do."
What the Commodores can't do is afford to lay another egg like they did Saturday.
Last season, Vanderbilt dropped its opening game to Middle Tennessee State before rebounding with three consecutive victories over Indiana, Middle Tennessee State and Louisville to force a final game. The Cardinals won that contest, 5-3.
Vanderbilt will have to snap out of an offensive funk first.
The Commodores were flummoxed on Saturday by Louisville starter Matt Koch and closer Neil Holland, managing just four hits. The only offense was provided by a towering solo home run by Jason Esposito in the fourth inning, and Vanderbilt managed just one hit the remainder of the game.
Now more than ever, the Commodores will have to employ a one-game-at-a-time approach.
"Go into the game, look to put guys on base, look to score them, look to play defense behind our pitchers," Esposito said. "Same mentality."
Vanderbilt hopes Sunday starter Jack Armstrong can do to the Redbirds with his pitching what he already did with his bat on Friday: beat them.
Do that, and the Commodores get another shot at Louisville.
As Corbin pointed out, "Can't play the fourth unless you win the third."