The Vanderbilt Commodores (59-12) defeated Michigan 8-2 in Game 3 of the 2019 College Baseball World Series to win the NCAA Championship and secure their second CWS title since 2014.
Michigan (50-22), which more known for their football and basketball prowess, tried to play the role of Cinderella at this year’s College Baseball World Series. The Wolverines were one of the final four teams to qualify for the postseason and they were one win away from a national title. However, Michigan’s magical run ended when they failed to defeat #2 Vanderbilt.
“They have inspired future generations of Michigan baseball players with the belief that winning a national championship is possible,” said Michigan skipper Erik Bakich. “The only way you can have an Omaha program is to have an Omaha team. This is very much a tipping point for us.”
The Commodores were the runner-up in 2015. Many of the current players on the roster were recruited in the wake of their run in 2014-15.
Vanderbilt freshman pitcher Kumar Rocker, who won Game 2 to tie the best-of-three series at 1-1, got awarded the CSW Most Outstanding Player. In the CSW, Rocker went 4-0 with 44 strikeouts in 28 innings. For the next few decades, people will be talking about Rocker’s no-no in the Super Regionals when he hurled a no-hitter in an elimination game against Duke.
Vandy came into the World Series finale with one of the most dangerous offenses in college baseball. However, their pitching stepped up when they needed it the most.
Vanderbilt is hoping that this good mojo rubs off on their basketball team. Vandy posted the worst record in the SEC last season and they fired head coach Bryce Drew. Vandy went the pro route and brought in ex-NBA All-Star Jerry Stackhouse with the hopes he can whip the new recruits, like Scottie Pippen Jr., into fighting shape.
Michigan jumped out to a 1-0 series lead when they dominated in Game 1. Vandy countered with their ace and Rocker in Game 2.
Michigan sent their best pitcher, Karl Kauffmann (12-7), to the mound in Game 3. They also jumped on the board first with a 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Kauffmann lost complete control in the third inning. At that point, the damage had been done and Michigan trailed 4-1.
“I felt we were going to hit well. I felt we were going to play well. Thought this was going to be a nice night for the kids,” said Vandy manager Tim Corbin.
Vandy posted two more runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to increase the lead 6-1. They scored a couple of unnecessary insurance runs late in the game and held on to win 8-2.
Mason Hickman (9-0) scattered four hits and allow only one run in six innings. Hickman also whiffed ten batters. In two CWS starts, he allowed only one run in 12 innings of action.
Jake Edler came in for three innings of relief and helped the Commodores shut the door on the Wolverines.
Pat DeMarco crushed a home run to dead center to initially tie the score at 1-1. Catcher Philip Clarke went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Stephen Scott added a 2-run RBI single.
“I know our offense was celebrated for a long period of time, but you look at what happened in this tournament, and it was pitching and defense, and certainly starting pitching,” said coach Corbin. “We won this in 2014, it was relief pitching. In this tournament, it was starting pitching.”