OMAHA, Neb. — Vanderbilt had a one-run lead and a chance to add to it in the fourth inning in Game 2 of the College World Series finals.
That’s where the game turned on the Commodores in a 7-2 loss to Virginia on Tuesday night. Rhett Wiseman couldn’t get a bunt down to move over a runner, and he struck out looking. Then John Norwood got picked off at second base.
“The inning crashed,” coach Tim Corbin said.
Now Vanderbilt finds itself in a decisive Game 3 on Wednesday night in the CWS finals. The winner will earn its first national championship in baseball.
The Commodores were flummoxed by Virginia starter Brandon Waddell. After Norwood’s double with one out in the fourth, the Commodores didn’t get a hit off the sophomore left-hander until Joe McCarthy singled in the ninth. By then they were down five runs.
Waddell limited Vanderbilt to five hits in his first nine-inning complete game and Virginia knocked out first-round draft pick Tyler Beede in the seventh.
“Waddell threw a heck of the game,” Corbin said. “He basically suffocated our offense for most of the night, particularly as the game went on. I thought our guy did a nice job as well. I thought there were some plays that we may have been able to contain. They were big at the moment, and the inning got a little bit loose.”
Virginia (53-15) forced the third game after Vanderbilt (50-21) rode a nine-run third inning against Nathan Kirby to a 9-8 victory Monday. Projected starting pitchers for Game 3 are Josh Sborz (6-4) for Virginia against Carson Fulmer (7-1).
Waddell (10-3), who pitched a solid seven innings with no decision against TCU a week ago, was even better against the Commodores. He retired 12 in a row before he issued a walk with two outs in the ninth.
“I didn’t know how long I’d be in the game,” Waddell said. “I tried to keep going until they told me to stop.”
Waddell didn’t stop until he threw 115 pitches and Wiseman had grounded out to end the game. Teammates rushed out of the dugout to congratulate him for his first conventional complete game. He was credited with one for going six innings in a rain-shortened game against Monmouth in March, and it was the Virginia staff’s third of the season.
Kenny Towns and John La Prise drove in two runs apiece, and the Cavaliers finished with 13 hits against Beede (8-8) and three relievers. Virginia has a total of 15 runs and 28 hits the last two games.
“They put the ball in play,” Corbin said. “They have very good approaches at the plate. It’s a tough team to pitch against, but I have no issue with our pitching. Not an issue. None whatsoever.”
The Cavaliers turned a 2-1 deficit entering the sixth inning into a 6-2 lead at the end of the seventh.
Brandon Downes drove in Virginia’s third run of the sixth when his fly ball to center glanced off the heel of Norwood’s glove for a triple. Towns’ third two-out single of the game brought in two more runs in the seventh.
Through five innings, Beede looked sharp in limiting the Cavaliers to one run on three hits and two walks. The 14th overall draft pick by the San Francisco Giants had been struggling with his control and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning in his previous CWS start against UC Irvine.
He left with two outs in the seventh after allowing six runs on 10 hits and three walks.
“Execution was a little poor the third and fourth time through the lineup,” Beede said. “They were finding holes. They’re a talented hitting team.”
Vanderbilt third baseman Tyler Campbell sustained a mouth cut when Mike Papi put a hard shoulder into him as he was tagged out during a ninth-inning rundown. After Papi jogged back to his dugout, Vanderbilt fans chanted “Throw him out!” Papi stayed in the game.
The Cavaliers will be playing for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first national title in baseball since Wake Forest in 1955. Vanderbilt will be going for the Southeastern Conference’s fourth championship in six years.