An eighth-inning solo home run sent Vanderbilt to its first-ever baseball national championship on Wednesday, giving the Commodores a 3-2 win over Virginia.
John Norwood smacked a 97 mile per hour fastball from UVA closer Nick Howard into the left-field bullpen in the top of the eighth inning in the third and decisive game of the College World Series. It was Norwood's third homer of the year, his first since April 19, and Vanderbilt's first since May 16. It also was only the third home run in 16 CWS games and the 22nd in 72 games by the Commodores (51-21).
The Cavaliers (53-16) loaded the bases with one out in the eighth when Adam Ravenelle hit Kenny Towns. But Mike Papi was forced out at home on a chopper to Ravenelle, and Brandon Downes grounded out.
"You have the bases loaded in the eighth with one out and I thought La Prise or Downes is going to get a hit and Nick Howard is going to come in and close it in the ninth," UVA coach Brian O'Connor said. "Sometimes this game can be a very cruel game. But the fact that it's a cruel game makes it a great game, and makes you want to come back out and give it another shot."
UVA tied the game up on a sharply hit ball by Kenny Towns that Vanderbilt's shortstop could not handle to make it 2-2 in the sixth. The Wahoos tied it earlier in the sixth on a Daniel Pinero single that scored Robbie Coman.
Vanderbilt took a 2-0 advantage in the top of the sixth inning. on a Vince Conde single that scored Norwood. Vanderbilt got on the scoreboard in the top of the first on a throwing error by Wahoos catcher Robbie Coman.
"This is a team that's the best team I have ever played on," UVA left fielder Derek Fisher said. "We played our hearts out and it obviously didn't go our way. But this is going to be a learning experience for sure."
Vanderbilt's Dansby Swanson was named the College World Series' MVP.
Pitching in relief, UVA's Artie Lewicki scattered four hits over six innings. Lewicki did not allow an earned run in 23 1/3 innings pitched during the NCAA Tournament.
"It was going to be a heart-breaker to any team in any situation," Papi said. "I mean, we made it to the last game that you could possibly make it to in the season and both teams were putting it all out there. It's a huge heart-break to not win it, but like I said both teams cant' win it. We were unfortunately on the losing end."
The University of Virginia baseball team was also seeking its first national championship in school history. The last ACC member to win a baseball title was Wake Forest in 1955.
Vanderbilt jumped out to a seven-run lead in Game 1 and held on for a 9-8 win Monday night. The Wahoos bounced back Tuesday with a 7-2 victory.
There will be a homecoming celebration for the Cavaliers on Thursday night in Charlottesville. The event is at 6 p.m. at Davenport Field.
2014 Men's College World Series All-Tournament Team
Catcher: Nate Irving, Virginia
First Base: Kevin Cron, TCU
Second Base: Branden Cogswell, Virginia
Third Base: Tyler Campbell, Vanderbilt
Shortstop: C.J. Hinojosa, Texas
Outfield: John Norwood, Vanderbilt
Outfield: Rhett Wiseman, Vanderbilt
Outfield: Brandon Downes, Virginia
Designated Hitter: Dansby Swanson, Vanderbilt
Pitcher: Artie Lewicki, Virginia
Pitcher: Brandon Waddell, Virginia
Most Outstanding Player: Dansby Swanson, Vanderbilt