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College World Series
We had quite the pitching duel on our hands last night as Vanderbilt (57-11) beat Louisville, 3-2, after a thrilling finish. The Commodores scored two runs in the top of the 9th inning on RBI-doubles by both Ethan Paul and Pat DeMarco. It looked like Louisville would mount a comeback of their own in the bottom of the 9th starting with a one-out double down the line by none other than Drew Campbell, but Vandy closer, Tyler Brown, shut down the Cardinals batters to lock up the school’s single-season saves record and, more importantly, their spot in the finals.
“[I]t was a very well-played game,” according to Vanderbilt head coach, Tim Corbin, in his comments after the game. “When you get to this point, you’re trying to separate yourself from another championship team because really all these teams right now are championship level, and Dan [McDonnell]’s certainly is that.”
Louisville head coach McDonnell also had glowing praise of Vanderbilt and Corbin, “…they do everything well. I think what’s probably most impressive about this team…it’s such a really good lineup. … I think this is one of the better lineups they’ve ever had, and that’s not a knock on their past lineups.”
The Cardinals ended a historic season, winning multiple games in Omaha for the first time in program history, winning the ACC Regular Season crown, and winning 50-plus games for the sixth time in school history. McDonnell has been the leader for all of those 50-win seasons, as well as five appearances at the College World Series, so when he ended his press conference with, “we’ll be back,” it’s hard to doubt him.
This game started as a back-and-forth affair as Michigan (49-20) scored two runs in each of the first three innings and Texas Tech (46-20) responded with three runs themselves. We had three back-to-back lead changes starting with the bottom of the first and it never seemed like one team was in control.
But Michigan did not stop there.
The Maize and Blue scored at least a run in every inning they played except the 5th. Jimmy Kerr, who went 4-6, had a career day and it came at the best time. Of his four hits, two were for solo home runs and one was an RBI double. Pretty great day if you ask me! Michigan’s defense also played an outstanding game with several electric plays and two double plays.
Starter Karl Kauffmann (W, 12-6) and reliever Jeff Criswell (S, 3) carried Michigan pitching and helped save some arms for the Championship Series, which will start Monday, June 24th at 6 pm (CT) against either Vanderbilt (56-11, 2-0 at the CWS) or Louisville (51-17, 2-1 at the CWS). Michigan will be the first Big Ten team to play for a CWS title since Ohio State won the title in 1966.
(For more on Michigan’s journey to the Championship Series, see this post by our own, John Peters!)
Texas Tech had a great season in which they won the Big 12 regular season title, which is their third in the last four seasons. They also have ended their season in Omaha four of the last six seasons. Seventh-year head coach, Tim Tadlock, has built the Red Raiders into a perennial contender and Tech fans have a lot of which to be proud.
What a wild finish! Louisville (51-17) walks off Mississippi State (52-15) to send the Cardinals to the Bracket 2 Final against Vanderbilt on Friday at 6 pm (CT). Louisville mounted a furious comeback starting with two runs in the 7th inning. Everyone was holding their breath in the stadium as Louisville had the bases loaded with one out.
Drew Campbell knew it was important to keep the dugout energy up and said, “everybody had positive things to say in the dugout,” which proved important as he brought home the first run for Louisville with a single. In the 9th, Danny Oriente was “just trying to stay alive in the zone [and] hit anything that came in the zone,” and singled in Jake Snider from second. Campbell proved to be the hero again when he singled to right center to score Oriente and was mobbed in shallow left field by his teammates.
Nick Bennett, Louisville’s starter for the game, “wouldn’t say it was his best performance, but [he] battled, and that’s what the whole team seemed to do.” He struggled towards the end of his outing, when the Bulldogs roughed him up in the 4th inning with three hits and a walk, leading to two runs. Reid Detmers (W, 13-4) came on in relief but only threw two official pitches before he got Louisville out of the inning with a pickoff of State’s Jake Mangum.
Mississippi State had a great season under first year coach Chris Lemonis, who has clearly earned the respect of his team. Jake Mangum told him “Thank you for everything. You’re going to bring the first National Championship to this baseball program. … And it’s going to be awesome.” Mississippi State has been a model of consistency after making the College World Series in back-to-back years and making it to the Super Regionals each of the last four years, all under different coaches. Lemonis, Mangum, and JT Ginn all echoed that they’ll be back, and we believe them.
Unfortunately for the college baseball world, Mike Martin’s storied career has come to end, fittingly in Omaha. In case you haven’t heard, this was his 40th and final season as the leader of Florida State Baseball. There are plenty of stats describing just how good Martin has been with FSU, so we won’t go into them here. (Okay, maybe just a few.)
- 40 consecutive 40-win seasons
- 40 consecutive NCAA Regional appearances
- 17 CWS appearances
- 13 Conference regular season titles (9 ACC, 4 Metro)
- 13-time Coach of the Year
It was an unbelievable career for Mike Martin, and he will be missed in the college baseball world. His impact on the game will likely be felt forever. Martin hopes people carry on his legacy and “how important it is to do things right, whether it's dealing with a young man, getting across to them the importance of education.”
Texas Tech (46-19) came away with the win on the back of a solid pitching performance by both Bryce Bonnin (W, 7-1) and Taylor Floyd (S, 5). Floyd came on to pitch in relief for Bonnin in the 6th and carried the Red Raiders the rest of the way only allowing one hit and striking out eight. Dylan Neuse, on his spectacular catch in the 8th inning, said “every pitch I'm ready to catch the balls in the gaps.” He had a good day at the plate, going 2-5 and scoring twice.
Texas Tech will face Michigan on Friday the 20th at 1 pm (CT). The Red Raiders will be the visiting team.
Vanderbilt (56-11) had a big offensive 5th inning and it turned out to be all they needed to beat Mississippi State (52-14). Kumar Rocker (W, 11-5) was electric as usual, pitching six innings and allowing one earned run. Of his 95 pitches, 63 of them went for strikes and he struck out six Bulldog batters. For the offense, have yourself a day, Stephen Scott! He went 2-5 with 2 home runs and 4 RBI.
Any other person might have been feeling the pressure to live up to the no-hitter from his last outing, but not Kumar Rocker. Rocker on his preparation coming into this game after that, “… I moved forward from that. I couldn’t think of that while on the mound.” Vanderbilt head coach, Tim Corbin, “thought Kumar responded to his challenge particularly well, especially once he got done with the first inning, runners on first and second and an out and got us deep into the ballgame. Very impressive for sure.”
Mississippi State pitchers had a rough go of things in the 5th inning, but aside from the 2nd inning, put up zeros. The Bulldogs used four different pitchers in that inning. It looked like the Bulldogs would make a comeback starting in the 6th inning when Rocker was getting to the end of his outing. Then, when Rocker left after the 6th, State capitalized. They got the scoring going that inning with a solo home run by third baseman Marshall Gilbert, his 6th of the year. They would get another run that inning; however, it could’ve been more as they had runners at the corners, but Vanderbilt pitcher, Tyler Brown, would get the Commodores out unscathed.