OMAHA, Neb. — Tyler Campbell never expected to even play in the College World Series. Turns out, he’s become one of Vanderbilt’s stars in Omaha.
Campbell’s bases-loaded infield single in the bottom of the 10th inning gave the Commodores a 4-3 win over Texas on Saturday night and sent them to the finals against Virginia.
Campbell was in his second game filling in for third baseman Xavier Turner, who was ruled ineligible Friday for a violation of NCAA rules.
“As far as these past few days, it’s just been fun,” Campbell said. “From the time I got in, I’ve tried to stay focused and stay in the moment, and it’s been all right.”
All right, indeed.
Campbell had only 21 at-bats this season when he stepped to the plate in the 10th. He fouled off a pitch and took another before he grounded to shortstop. C.J. Hinojosa charged the ball, but couldn’t get it to first in time to get Campbell.
Campbell waited behind the bag to be mobbed by teammates who came flooding out of the third-base dugout and bullpen.
“That’s what these moments are about, when kids have been practicing all year and not getting in games. Then their number is called,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said. “Everybody is so happy for this kid. They wanted him to play, and just to see him succeed, the team is beyond happy.”
Freshman Hayden Stone (3-0) struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings of relief of Carson Fulmer. Vanderbilt (49-20) gives the SEC a team in the CWS finals for the seventh straight year.
Vanderbilt, which avenged a 4-0 loss to the Longhorns (46-21) on Friday, survived a couple of scares to advance to the best-of-three CWS championship series, which begins Monday night.
In the fifth inning, Fulmer issued three straight walks to load the bases with one out. Stone came on and Ben Johnson grounded his first pitch to third, where Campbell started the inning-ending double play.
In the Texas 10th, Hinojosa drilled a ball deep to right, but Rhett Wiseman sprinted into the right-center field gap and extended his glove to make the catch before falling onto the warning track.
VIRGINIA 4, MISSISSIPPI 1
OMAHA, Neb. — You won’t hear any complaints from Virginia about TD Ameritrade Park. It seems this place was built for the Cavaliers, and they’re happy to get to hang around a few more days.
Josh Sborz and two relievers turned in another dominating pitching performance Saturday, limiting Mississippi to six singles in a 4-1 victory that put Virginia in the College World Series finals.
The Cavaliers (52-14) have allowed two earned runs in 33 innings in winning their three CWS games for a 0.55 ERA. The CWS record for lowest ERA in a series, in a minimum four games, is 0.60 by California in 1957.
“I thought we would be pretty darn good in Omaha on the mound. I really did,” coach Brian O’Connor said. “Obviously, the spacious ballpark and our ability to defend have a lot to do with it. What we’ve done all year is throw strikes. Our walk numbers are ridiculously low. And we’ve got really good arms.”
Virginia (52-14), in the CWS for the third time, is looking for its first national championship in baseball.
The Rebels (48-21) lost to Virginia for a second time in the CWS, ending their first trip to Omaha since 1972.
“They make it very hard on you,” Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco said. “Man, they’re good. They can really pitch, hit and play defense — an outstanding ballclub that deserved to win.”
Virginia, which had been batting .091 in the CWS with runners in scoring position, took a 3-1 lead in the fourth after loading the bases against Chris Ellis (10-3). Robbie Coman drove Ellis’ 1-0 pitch into right field for two runs, and another came home on Branden Cogswell’s squeeze bunt.
Joe McCarthy, who came to bat in the seventh 1 for 12 in the CWS, delivered an insurance run with a double deep into right center.
By wire sources