If Vanderbilt and North Carolina meet again in the College World Series, North Carolina Head Coach Mike Fox may look to Terminix to provide some advice in containing Vanderbilt left fielder Tony Kemp.
Mr. Excitement, Kemp, did a little bit of everything for Vanderbilt on Saturday, and left North Carolina looking befuddled as to how to slow down the freshman speedster.
"He's a pest ... he's an absolute pest," Fox said. "I'd like to have him. No offence Chaz (Frank) but I'd hit you in the two-hole if I had him. He slaps the ball around the park, runs like the wind. He just puts all kind of pressure on you."
Just a freshman, Kemp was not afraid of the biggest stage in college baseball. Instead, he thrived on it.
In a game that featured former President George W. Bush throwing out the first pitch in the first CWS game at TD Ameritrade Park, it was Kemp who was on base four times, going 3-for-4 with 1 run, 1 RBI and a walk. He also stole a base, and became part of a trivia question along the way. Who had the first hit in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park? Tony Kemp.
Kemp began the game with a bunt single that ended with him on second base after North Carolina starter Patrick Johnson airmailed his throw to first base.
"He's so fast," said Johnson. "He's a great leadoff hitter and he set the tone in the beginning of the game, forcing me to make a play (on a bunt), and unfortunately I made an error. He just did a great job all day."
Kemp's leadoff bunt did exactly what he hoped - it the Tar Heels to make a play, and they did not.
"Luckily in the first inning I was able to get the bunt down," Kemp said. "Coach just asked me to put some pressure on them just like he does every game, and I was able to do that."
Kemp's damage wasn't just limited to the offensive end. With the bases loaded in the bottom of fourth inning, UNC's Levi Michael lifted a ball to short left field that appeared as if it would drop. It likely would have dropped in on about any other left fielder in college baseball, but not Tony Kemp.
Utilizing his speed as he has done so many times before, Kemp sprung into action and robbed Michael of a hit with a head-on diving catch. The catch preserved a 2-2 tie and gave the Commodores their second out of the inning. North Carolina would end up tacking on one run in the inning, but would have been more had it not been for Kemp's play.
"I was originally in the gap, and then Coach Holliday and Corbin kind of shifted me towards the line," Kemp said. "(Michael) got a ball up; and once I started running in, it looked like I had a chance, decided to lay out there and luckily I lifted my glove and the ball was there."
You'd be hard-pressed to find a hole in Vanderbilt's lineup, which includes eight of nine starters hitting above .300.
The consistency throughout the lineup has been giving opposing pitchers fits all season. Around every corner is a player that handles the bat extremely well and on any given night a different hitter can hurt you.
All season long the player who has been the plate setter for Vanderbilt's lineup has been Kemp. On Saturday, it was only fitting that the local kid from Franklin, who has meant so much to this team this season, was once again setting the tone with his exciting play.
His speed caused North Carolina fits all day long just as he has to so many others all season long.