Vanderbilt capitalized on Virginia starter Nathan Kirby's sudden loss of control to score nine runs in the third inning, then held off the Cavaliers to win 9-8 in Game 1 of the College World Series finals Monday night.
The Commodores (50-20) can win their first national championship in a men's sport with a win Tuesday night. The first pitch is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday. The game is being televised by ESPN.
Tyler Campbell continued his improbable breakout for the Commodores, doubling twice in the third inning. His second double came off reliever Whit Mayberry with the bases loaded to put Vanderbilt up 9-2. Kirby went just 2 1/3 innings, walked five, and threw just 26 strikes in 72 pitches. Vanderbilt sent 13 batters to the plate in the third inning.
"It was pitching. It was defense. It was just a letdown overall," UVA first baseman Mike Papi said. "We gave them those runs. We gave them that win. If I'm being honest, I definitely don't think they deserved to win that game. We just handed it to them and that's now how we have been playing all year. We didn't do it the right way, and you saw the result."
But Virginia (52-15) chipped away, scoring three runs in the third, two in the fifth and another in the eighth to make it a one-run game.
Adam Ravenelle came on in the ninth to get the last three outs for his second save of the CWS.
The 17 runs scored by the two teams were the most scored in a College World Series game played at TD Ameritrade Park.