Vanderbilt came into Game 2 of the College World Series on Tuesday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha down 0-1 to Michigan in the best-of-three final and on the brink of elimination. Freshman ace Kumar Rocker, however, was up to the task and helped the Commodores win by a score of 4-1 and thus force a decisive Game 3 on Wednesday night to determine the national championship for 2019.
Rocker wasn’t as dominant as he was when he struck out 19 (!) and twirled a no-hitter against Duke in the Nashville Super Regional, but he looked on a similar level in the early going on Tuesday:
In the end, Rocker wound up working 6 1/3 innings of one-run, three-hit ball while striking out 11 and walking two thanks to his outstanding fastball-breaking ball combo. He also became just the ninth pitcher in finals history to strike out 10 or more batters in a game. Rocker escaped jams in the fourth — Michigan stole three bases in the inning but failed to score a run — and sixth before giving way to relief ace Tyler Brown in the seventh. Despite allowing an inherited runner to score, Brown closed it out with 2 2/3 strong frames
On offense, Vandy plated a pair of runs in the fifth on wild pitches, and then catcher Philip Clarke notched the first and only home run of the game:
One thing to monitor for Michigan heading into Game 3 is the status of DH and leadoff hitter Jordan Nwogu, who appeared to injure his leg while trying to hustle out a ground ball in the third. He was removed from the game and while exiting the field was unable to put weight on his right leg. Nwogu batted a productive .339/.459/.593 with 14 stolen bases and 23 extra-base hits for the Wolverines this season. Needless to say, he’d be a critical loss if he’s unable to play in Game 3.
The decisive Game 3 can be seen on ESPN Wednesday beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The Wolverines will by trying to win their first national title since 1962, while the Commodores will be looking for their first championship since 2014.