And it’s the Vanderbilt Commodores… You might’ve heard it in the post-game press conference. Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said that he almost wishes he WASN’T from Omaha because he feels that fact puts so much attention on him and takes attention away from his players. Tim Corbin echoed those sentiments about how big [...]
Virginia didn’t let themselves get in their own way this time. They also didn’t trip over their lip. It was a no-nonsense, nose-to-grindstone type of performance for the Wahoos, and it showed.
No wild number of walks. No hit batsmen. No flinging the ball into the stands on routine plays – okay, maybe that happened once, but you get my drift. This is the Virginia team that we saw in the final six innings last night and the team that has been near the top of the polls all season long, playing at an Appalachian-like high, man.
Tonight’s 7-2 win for the blue & orange sets up a winner-take-all College World Series finale on Wednesday night. As it should be, right? This is good stuff.
For eight of the nine innings, Virginia looked far and away the better team. I mean, if this was a boxing match, the Cavaliers win by decision… a major decision. But for that one inning that they weren’t the better team? Whew! That was a doozy. Nathan Kirby looked so sharp in his three-up, three-down innings in the 1st and 2nd. Then all the sudden, it all went to hell in a hand basket with a meltdown like the CWS hadn’t seen since the days of LSU All American Ben McDonald. One inning. One damn, nasty, ugly, fugly inning.
And as you guys know, in our sport that’s all it takes to win a game… or in this case, to lose a game.
Okay dudes and dudettes.
We’re at that magical point in the season. 300 teams have hung up the cleats or packed them away for the summer leagues spread out around the country. Two teams are still alive, vying for that uber-elusive national title. The sad part is, both Virginia and Vanderbilt have been through so much this season, they both deserve a championship here in Omaha. But… there can only be one.
Here’s a little ditty that Mitch Sherman and I knocked out after the Vandy-Texas game was done. (Please feel free to ignore the fact that I said the game ended in the 11th inning, instead of the 10th… eh, it happens from time to time.) Here’s the link for the video. Enjoy.
And if you wanna check out a piece that Mitch wrote for the MotherShip on Virginia’s version of Dingerville, Click your mouse here.
Also, the venerable Ryan McGee added this column to the site as well, concerning the ACC’s national title drought: Click here to check it out.
Some need-to-know stuff about the CWS finals:
2. After last year’s College World Series set a new record with only 6.1 runs per game, we’re on pace to go even lower this season. Entering the CWS Finals, the average game has seen 5.4 runs. Only three teams have reached five runs in a game; since the CWS expanded to eight teams, there has never been a year when fewer than six hit that mark.
4. Virginia has a chance to snap one of the longest droughts in college baseball. The ACC hasn’t won a title since 1955, when Wake Forest won the College World Series in the conference’s second year of existence.
5. Both teams are still alive due to their bullpens. Vanderbilt has not had a quality start in any of its four CWS games, but its relievers are 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA. Virginia’s bullpen has been even better, not allowing a run in 14 innings in Omaha.
>> Seeking 1st men’s title
I spent my past 36 hours or so driving around Iowa and seeing the sights, including John Wayne’s birthplace and the Bridges of Madison Country. But the highlight of my trek was getting a tour of the Templeton Rye Whiskey distillery. It has been around since the 1910s and during Prohibition, Al Capone had it delivered to him in Chicago in hugh-hush fashion.
We’re down to the Final Four.
If you started the season and was told that the Final Four in June Madness was going to be Vanderbilt, Virginia, Texas and Ole Miss, would you have been surprised? Well, okay you Mississippi State fans, I’m SURE you didn’t have the Rebels making it here, but how about the rest of you?
I don’t think this year’s post-season is all that shocking in the end. Sure there were a bunch of stunners through the Regionals and Super Regionals. And yes, the seeding was pretty crappy as you can attest by there now being seven of the eight national seeds landing on their canastas.
Oh boy. Gorilla Ball is officially back.
Hide the women and children. Gorilla Ball returned to Omaha again tonight as the Texas Longhorns beat the UC Irvine Anteaters 1-0 on a big yard call from C.J. Hinojosa in the seventh Inning… you know, one of those 340-foot hits that used to clear the outfield fence just like in the old days? Welcome back to it rock-n-rollers.
Damn. Just… damn.
Late in today’s second game, like in the 13th inning or so, I walked in front of the TCU dugout in order to get to the 1st base photo well. But as I passed in front, Horned Frog head coach Jim Schlossnagle said to me, “Eric, you’ve got to write a story about this place. There are no home runs here.”
I thought he was sort of making a joke as I jogged by. But I soon found out, he wasn’t.
Okay StitchHeads, we have our first “sittin’ pretty” team of the College World Series. It’s Anchors aweigh for the Commodores of Vanderbilt as they advance to Friday’s bracket championship game with a 6-4 win over UC Irvine tonight. We also have our first team packing their gear and heading home: the Louisville Cards. Gotta admit, not the first team I expected to be heading home from The O. But this is one unpredictable post-season so nothing goes as you script