OMAHA, Neb. – Vanderbilt took advantage of five walks, a hit by pitch and an error in a nine-run third inning and then held off a feisty Virginia club to pick up a 9-8 victory in Game One of the College World Series Finals Monday night.
The victory moves the Commodores within one win of their first national championship in baseball and the second NCAA championship for Vanderbilt in any sport (Vanderbilt also won an NCAA title in bowling in 2007).
Monday’s game was the highest scoring CWS game since the tournament moved to TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in 2011.
Given a 2-0 lead after one inning, Virginia starter Nathan Kirby cruised through the first two innings, striking out three and not allowing a base runner, but ran into trouble in the third.
With one out, the Commodores’ Jason Delay worked a four-pitch walk before Tyler Campbell’s double to left put both runners in scoring position. After Dansby Swanson drew a walk, Bryan Reynolds pushed each runner up a base with an infield single, scoring Delay and loading the bases. Three consecutive walks gave Vanderbilt a 4-2 lead.
After Rhett Wiseman reached on a fielding error to plate Conde, Kirby exited the game and gave way to Whit Mayberry. Chris Harvey fouled out to right field, but Wiel tagged up and dashed home, narrowly beating the throw at the plate to extend to 6-2. Delay was hit by a pitch to load the bases again, and Campbell’s second double of the inning provided the biggest punch– a three-run burst to put the Commodores in control, 9-2.
Virginia got three back in its half of the third, with four consecutive two-out hits to cut the lead to 9-5.
The Cavaliers continued to cut into the lead in the fifth with more two-out damage. After two quick outs, Brandon Downes tripled and scored on Nate Irving’s double to make it 9-6. Following a Branden Cogswell walk, Daniel Pinero singled to cut the lead to 9-7.
Virginia was in position to tie the game in the eighth after the first two batters reached base on singles. Mike Papi then moved the runners to second and third with a sacrifice bunt. Joe McCarthy lined a ball that hit the pitcher’s mound and went to Conde at shortstop for an RBI ground out to make it a 9-8 game. Derek Fisher’s grounder up the middle nearly tied the game, but Conde’s throw narrowly got Fisher out at first to end the inning.
Adam Ravenelle pitched a perfect ninth for the Commodores to get the save and put Vanderbilt just one win away from a national title.
The teams return to action Tuesday for Game 2 of the CWS Finals, with Vanderbilt looking to claim a championship and Virginia hoping to force Game 3. First pitch on Tuesday is at 7 p.m. CDT.