OMAHA, Neb. – The Vanderbilt Commodores anchored down in the third inning Monday night, not leaving the dock until they had scored nine runs in the inning en route to a 9-8 Game 1 win over Virginia in the 2014 College World Series Final at TD Ameritrade Park. Third baseman Tyler Campbell led the third inning rally with a pair of doubles, three RBI and a run scored as the sophomore has come up big since replacing Xavier Turner who was declared ineligible due to undisclosed NCAA violations.
Campbell has been spectacular since filling in for Turner hitting .417 with two doubles, four runs driven in and a run scored. He was not only the guy who got the walk-off infield single that propelled Vanderbilt to the final, he is also the guy who got the first and last hit of the third inning Monday, both doubles, accounting for four runs in the rally. His three-run double proved to be the difference in the game as it gave the Commodores a 9-2 lead which was just what they would need to hold on for the win.
“I’m just still happy I got the opportunity and I’ve been able to come in and be a solid player for the team,” said the sophomore of his recent contributions to the team in Turner’s absence.
Vanderbilt reliever John Kilichowski had an excellent performance as he came into the game and slowed the Cavaliers’ fierce comeback by allowing only a run over three innings of work, including an essential kick-save to keep the tying run from scoring in the eighth. The freshman came up big with only two hits allowed while striking out two as he got the game to stopper Adam Ravenelle with a one-run lead in the ninth.
After getting out of the third, Whit Mayberry combined with Austin Young to provide Virginia with a solid pen performance as they shut out the Commodores over the final six innings of the game to give the offense an opportunity to get back into the game. Mayberry came on with the bases loaded and one out in the third and would give up a run on a sac fly in foul territory near the seats in right field before hitting a batter then surrendering Campbell’s three-run double.
The senior would settle down in the fourth and would hand the ball to another senior reliever in Young with two outs in the sixth. The right-hander kept Vandy off the board to close the sixth and then threw three scoreless innings in relief. The early pen work was due to a very uncharacteristic night for starter Nathan Kirby.
Kirby was pitching as usual through the first two innings but lost command and control in the third after striking out the lead-off man and before the waters calmed the southpaw was out of the game having allowed five walks in the inning. Of his last 50 pitches, 31 were balls after going 18 previous career starts without walking more than three in a game.
The sophomore talked about his third inning of work, “I just couldn’t find my release point, It hadn’t happened all year, but it happened tonight.”
“The game was defined in the third inning,” said Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor, “Nathan Kirby has done the job all year long for this team, and I thought he was pretty sharp the first couple of innings, and the third inning, it just kind of came unraveled.”
“No one could have scripted that particular game, and if anyone said they could, they’re lying,” said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin, “I don’t think you could have called a nine-run inning.”
What could be lost in the effort is the hitting performance put on by Virginia as it scored eight runs on 15 hits and knocked Vanderbilt starter Walker Buehler from the game after three innings of work allowing eight hits for five runs.
This game made history as the highest scoring game at TD Ameritrade Park and it is the first time that a team has scored five runs in this park to lose the game as teams are now 26-1 when scoring five or more runs in this park.
Virginia has allowed eight runs twice all season, once to open the season in an 8-3 loss to Kentucky and then in an 8-1 mid-week loss to Old Dominion. The Cavaliers allowed seven runs three times, all losses, at Miami 7-1, at Florida State 7-0 and in the ACC Tournament to Maryland 7-6. The Cavaliers have not allowed nine runs since an 11-6 loss to Mississippi State in the Super Regionals last season.
However, the Cavaliers aren’t hanging their heads after the defeat as they look to rebound on Tuesday night at 7:00 PM as Kirby said, “I thought we did a great job with the bats. If we carry that into tomorrow, I think we’ll be fine.”