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OMAHA, Neb. – A nine-run third inning propelled Vanderbilt (50-20) to a 9-8 victory over the Virginia baseball team (52-15) in the first game of the Men’s College World Series Finals on Monday (June 23) at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha.
Virginia will need to defeat Vanderbilt on Tuesday night when the two teams face off at 8 p.m. ET to keep the best-of-three series alive. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
“That was a tough one, but I'll say first that, I'm really, really proud of our guys,” Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor said. “The fight in us just did not stop. We had even opportunities in the eighth inning to tie the ballgame, and got both (Joe) McCarthy and (Derek) Fisher put good swings on the ball, and unfortunately we could point get that tying run in.
“But the game was defined in the third inning. Nathan Kirby has done the job all year long for this team, and I thought he was pretty sharp the first couple of innings, and the third inning, it just kind of came unraveled and the two doubles by Campbell I thought were pretty big.”
Vanderbilt sent 13 batters to the plate in the top of the third inning, scoring nine runs, including three that scored on bases-loaded walks and another on a fielding error, to take a 9-2 lead. Virginia scored three runs in the third, two in the fifth and a run in the eighth to cut the deficit to 9-8.
Sophomore starting pitcher Nathan Kirby (Midlothian, Va.), took the loss, working 2.1 innings, allowing eight runs, five earned, on two hits with five walks and four strikeouts as he took the loss and fell to 9-3 on the year. Reliever Jared Miller (7-2) earned the win with two innings of relief, while Adam Ravenelle pitched a perfect ninth inning for his second save. Vandy starter Walker Buehler worked three innings, allowing five earned runs.
The Cavaliers’ bullpen held the Commodores to one run over 6.2 innings to keep UVa in the game. Senior Whit Mayberry (Alexandria, Va.) worked 3.1, allowing one run on three hits, striking out two and walking none. Senior Austin Young (Mechanicsville, Va.) worked a season-high 3.1 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit, walking two and striking out four.
Branden Cogswell (Jr., Ballston Lake, N.Y.) finished the game 3-of-4 with a walk and two runs scored. Daniel Pinero (Fr., Toronto, Ontario) was 3-of-5 with an RBI. Brandon Downes (Jr., South Plainfield, N.J.) was 2-for-4, including a triple, with a run scored and two driven in. UVa finished the game with 15 hits, while Vanderbilt had six.
Virginia held an early 2-0 lead after Cogswell knocked the first offering of the game from Buehler into centerfield. After sophomore right fielder Joe McCarthy (Scranton, Pa.) hit a two-out double to advance Cogswell to third, junior left fielder Derek Fisher (Rexmont, Pa.) singled to right center to give UVa a 2-0 lead at then end of the first inning.
The Cavaliers mounted another two-out rally in the bottom of the third. McCarthy was hit by a pitch, coming around to score after back-to-back hits by Fisher and junior third baseman Kenny Towns (Burke, Va.). Downes, batting with the bases loaded, singled through the left side to score two more, cutting the deficit to 9-5.
In the fifth inning, Downes got another two-out hit, smashing a triple over the head of the center fielder. Junior catcher Nate Irving (Yonkers, N.Y.) doubled into the right field corner to score Downes. Irving scored from second on a single by Pinero.
Cogswell and Pinero started the eighth inning with back-to-back hits. After being bunted over to third, Cogswell scored on a groundout by McCarthy to pull the Cavaliers to within one, 9-8.
The 17 runs scored by the two teams were the most scored in a College World Series game played at TD Ameritrade Park.