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OMAHA, Neb. - The Virginia baseball team came up just short of winning a national championship Wednesday, falling to Vanderbilt, 3-2, in the deciding third game of the Finals of the 2014 Men's College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
A solo home run to left field in the top of the eighth inning by Vanderbilt's John Norwood off junior right-hander Nick Howard (Olney, Md.) broke a 2-2 tie, giving Vandy a one-run advantage. Virginia had bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the inning, but couldn't score the tying run.
The Cavaliers, who advanced to the Finals of the Men's College World Series for the first time in program history, finished the season with a 53-16 record, the second-most wins in program history. The Commodores close out the campaign with a mark of 51-21, winning just the second NCAA Championship in the school's history and the first for the baseball program.
Vanderbilt's Dansby Swanson hit the very first pitch of the ballgame through the left side of the infield and later came around to score on a throwing error on a double steal in an eventful first inning for sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Josh Sborz (McLean, Va.). Sborz allowed two hits and walked two more while striking out the final batter of the inning to escape with Virginia trailing 1-0.
Senior right-hander Artie Lewicki (Wyckoff, N.J.) took over for Sborz in the second inning, keeping Vanderbilt off the scoreboard until a two-out single to short plated an unearned run in the top of the sixth inning, putting UVa in a 2-0 hole.
Virginia, who had managed just one hit off Vanderbilt starter Carson Fulmer through five innings, got the offense ignited in the bottom of the sixth with a leadoff single to right center by sophomore catcher Robbie Coman (Lake Worth, Fla.). Freshman shortstop Daniel Pinero (Toronto, Ontario) drove in Coman with another single to right center, cutting the gap to 2-1. Junior third baseman Kenny Towns (Burke, Va.), batting with the bases loaded with two outs, ripped a low liner at Vandy shortstop Vince Conde, who couldn't field it cleanly, with Pinero coming home to score the tying run on the error.
Norwood cranked a Howard fastball into the left-field bullpen with one out in the eighth for just the third long ball of the 2014 College World Series.
Fulmer pitched 5.1 innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits, walking two while striking out five. Reliever Hayden Stone earned the win with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, while Adam Ravenelle worked out of bases-loaded jam in the eighth to claim his third save.
Lewicki worked six innings, allowing an unearned run on four hits with two walks and five strikeouts. In his four CWS appearances, Lewicki pitched 13.0 innings without allowing an earned run. Lewicki's six innings of relief was the most by a Virginia pitcher since Shane Halley threw six innings out of the bullpen in the 2012 season at Miami.
In working the final two innings, Howard took the defeat and fell to 2-2 on the year.
The 2014 Men's College World Series drew a record 347,740 fans to TD Ameritrade Park in the 16 games that spanned 12 days.