Game 16: Virginia v. Vanderbilt

Virginia was crowned the 2015 NCAA National Champions after defeating Vanderbilt, 4- 2, in game three of the College World Series Finals on Wednesday at TD Ameritrade Park.

In a rematch of last year’s CWS Finals series that Vanderbilt won, it was Virginia that took round two of the best-of-three series, 2-1. Vanderbilt won game one, 5-1, and Virginia took game two, 3-0, before the decisive third game went in the Cavaliers’ favor.

Though Virginia threatened with bases loaded in the top of the first, it was Vanderbilt that struck early in its half of the opening frame, taking advantage of three hits to score two runs. Bryan Reynolds started the inning with a four-pitch walk, moving to third when Rhett Wiseman’s double bounced off the wall in the left field corner. Dansby Swanson’s RBI ground out scored Reynolds and pushed Wiseman to third. Zander Wiel followed with an RBI double down the left field line to plate Wiseman and make it 2-0 in the Commodores’ favor.

That score held until the top of the fourth, when a two-run blast from UVa’s Pavin Smith tied it at 2-all. Kenny Towns drew a walk in the first at-bat of the inning before Smith took a 1-0 pitch over the left center. The Cavaliers took a 3-2 lead in the fifth when Smith added another RBI to his night, driving in Adam Haseley with a single through the left side. Haseley reached second after a walk and sacrifice bunt from Daniel Pinero, and the Cavaliers put two on when Matt Thaiss was hit by a pitch. Later in the inning with two outs, Smith’s second hit of the game allowed Haseley to scamper from second and beat the throw to the plate.

Haseley scored again in the seventh to extend Virginia’s lead to two, 4-2, coming home from third when Kenny Towns singled up the middle for the RBI. Haseley reached base for a fourth time in the game with an infield single to leadoff the inning, moved around on Pinero’s sacrifice bunt and Thaiss’ groundout before Towns’ hit brought him in.

The Cavaliers’ Brandon Waddell (5-5) threw seven innings in the win, giving up two runs on four hits with two strikeouts. Waddell retired the last 11 batters he faced before handing the ball to Nathan Kirby for the final two innings. Kirby earned his first career save with four strikeouts and just one hit allowed.

Haseley finished the game 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored, while Smith went 2-for-3 with a walk and three runs batted in.

Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler started the game, throwing into the fourth with two runs allowed and three strikeouts before John Kilichowski (3-4) entered.

Kilichowski was dealt the loss after giving up one run in 1.1 innings pitched.

Collin Snider and Ben Bowden each threw 0.1 innings for the Commodores, and Kyle Wright closed the game with 4.0 innings pitched, one run allowed and one strikeout.

Virginia (44-24), making its fourth trip to the CWS under head coach Brian O’Connor, claimed its first ever NCAA Division I Baseball Championship, and the third NCAA championship for the school this year. The Virginia men’s soccer and men’s tennis teams won national titles earlier this year.

Overall, Virginia now has won 23 team NCAA championships. It was the second Men’s College World Series title for the Atlantic Coast Conference and the first by an ACC school since Wake Forest in 1955. Virginia’s win marks just the third time a No. 3 seed or lower has won a national championship since seeding began in 1988. Oregon State accomplished the feat in 2007 as a No. 3 seed and Fresno State won the 2008 title as a No. 4 seed. Virginia was a No. 3 seed in the UCLA Regional this season.

Vanderbilt finishes the season at 51-21 overall after making its third appearance all-time at the CWS, including the second straight. All three CWS appearances have come under head coach Tim Corbin.