The Vanderbilt Commodores are college baseball national champions for 2019 after a 8-2 win over Michigan in the decisive Game 3 of the College World Series in Omaha. It’s the Commodores’ second national title — the first came in 2014. Vanderbilt also becomes the fourth team in the last five years to win the College World Series after losing Game 1 of the best-of-three finals.
Here’s the moment when Vandy clinched the national championship:
Vanderbilt entered the College World Series as the No. 2 national seed, which makes it the highest national seed to win the national championship since Miami in 2001, who was also a No. 2.
Michigan, meantime, hasn’t won the title since 1962, and the Big Ten hasn’t claimed a national championship in baseball since 1966 when Ohio State prevailed.
Michigan opened the game with three straight singles and a 1-0 lead, which led to bullpen activity for Vanderbilt before the first out of the game had been recorded. Vandy starter Mason Hickman, though, settled down nicely after some early command-and-control issues. Michigan had been 39-6 when scoring first in 2019 and 4-0 when scoring first during this year’s College World Series.
Vandy center fielder Pat DeMarco tied the score in the second, as he hit the Commodores’ 100th home run of the season to make it 1-1. Here’s a look at the only homer of Game 3:
Vanderbilt took the lead for good in the third when Michigan starter Karl Kauffmann issued a bases-loaded walk with two outs. A Stephen Scott single then gave the Commodores a 4-1 lead. One can certainly argue that Kauffmann, laboring badly in the inning, should not have been left in to face the lefty-hitting Scott.
The Commodores ducked major trouble in the top of the fourth when Hickman loaded the bases and escaped only when leadoff hitter Ako Thomas lined out to left to end the frame. In the bottom of that same inning, Vandy tacked on a pair of runs to give themselves a five-run cushion.
Hickman wound up working six innings of one-run ball with 10 strikeouts, three walks, and four hits allowed. Of his 101 pitches, 63 went for strikes. Hickman becomes just the ninth pitcher ever to strike out at least 10 batters in a College World Series game, and he joins teammate Kumar Rocker — Vandy’s Game 2 hero — in that exclusive group. Lefty Jake Eder closed it out with three innings of relief.
Vanderbilt and coach Tim Corbin end this season for the ages with a 59-12 record — an SEC record for wins in a season and an incredible mark considering 30 of those games came against brutal intra-conference competition. Michigan and their coach Erik Bakich finish 50-22 and one game shy of their ultimate goal.