On Monday in the winner's bracket of the 2014 College World Series, Vanderbilt overcame a 4-2 deficit to top UC Irvine. Both teams were 1-0 in Omaha coming into the game. The Anteaters, of course, eliminated Oregon State back in Regional play.
It was the Commodores that jumped out to an early advantage, striking in the top of the first for a pair of runs. Sophomore Zander Wiel singled in the first run of the game before a sacrifice bunt brought in a second. And just like that, Vanderbilt led 2-0.
"This game was surprisingly close," said UC Irvine head coach Mike Gillespie. "I promise you, it felt like a root canal."
I'm sure it was a lot more fun than that in the second inning when the Eaters plated four runs. That, however, would not only be their last inning with a run, but a hit of any kind as well.
The game somehow still took over three and a half hours, a growing problem in the college game. Combine that with the fact well hit balls are not leaving the yard (there has yet to be a home run in three days of the CWS), some of these games are becoming excruciating to watch. And that's coming from one of the biggest college baseball fans there is. Steps need to be taken before casual spectators of the sport are bored to death and lost forever.
Vanderbilt scored its winning runs in the fifth inning, boosted by a double and single to open the frame. A sacrifice groundout and popout brought in two runs, and another double brought in the third to hand Vandy a 5-4 lead. The Commodores were once again attacking on the basepaths, stealing five bags on the night. That brings their total to 20 on the postseason, which is 20 more than their opponents have combined.
They got some insurance in the top of the seventh, rallying for a run after recording two quick outs. Outfielder Rhett Wiseman doubled down the right field line, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. He would then score on a John Norwood single to the gap in left center field. The ten runs scored were the most in a College World Series game since the Beavers beat Louisville 11-4 last season.
Irvine's pitching staff did a good job of escaping jams in the eighth and ninth innings, but were unable to take advantage at the plate. They now drop to the loser's bracket and will face Texas at 5:00 PM Pacific on Wednesday in an elimination game. The Anteaters beat the Longhorns 3-1 in Saturday's CWS opener.
Vanderbilt is now one win away from the best of three championship series and gets the winner of UCI-Texas on Friday.