Vanderbilt Holds On, Defeats Virginia 9-8 Thanks to Nathan Kirby's Horrible, Very Bad, No-Good Night

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

This team hates doing things the easy way. Vanderbilt jumped out to a 9-2 lead in the top of the third inning, and then struggled to hang on as Virginia clawed back to 9-8 in the eighth. Fortunately, Adam Ravenelle was there to close the door on the Cavs.

Vanderbilt only scored runs in one inning of their first ever game in the College World Series finals. Despite a rocky finish, that was all they needed.

The Commodores tagged Virginia ace Nathan Kirby for 8 runs and then held on for dear life as the Cavaliers battled back to within a run to record a 9-8 win in Game One of the 2014 College World Series Final. With the victory, Vanderbilt now stands just one win from their first ever national championship in a men's sport.

Adam Ravenelle and freshman John Kilichowski steadied the ship for the 'Dores on the mound, providing the stability the team needed to hold on for the big win. The pair combined for four innings of one-run relief after the Cavs tagged Walker Buehler and Jared Miller for 13 hits over five frames.

Virginia started the scoring thanks to a clutch two-out single from Derek Fisher that scored Branden Cogswell and Joe McCarthy. That left Vandy in a big hole against an opponent that had only allowed two earned runs in Omaha, but the 'Dores were up to the challenge.

Cavalier starter Kirby opened the game with two sterling innings, but his third frame got rocky - and fast. After striking out Chris Harvey, he walked Jason Delay and gave up a big Tyler Campbell double to put the 'Hoos on their heels. Those baserunners were enough to rattle the lefty. He walked Dansby Swanson to load the bases, then gave up an infield single to Bryan Reynolds to make it 2-1.

And then:

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Kirby walked the next three batters, giving the 'Dores three runs without even having to swing their bats. An error, a foul-ball sacrifice fly, and a hit batsman loaded the bases back up for Tyler Campbell - and the former backup came through in a big way. Campbell laced a two-out double down the left field line to clear the bases and make it 9-2 after the top of the third.

Virginia, however, had no interest in giving up and waiting for Tuesday's game. The Cavs battled back with a two-out rally to chase Vandy starter Walker Buehler and make this a 9-5 game with six innings left to play. They staged another two-out rally an inning later when Brandon Downes (triple), Nate Irving (double), and Daniel Pinero (single) cut Vandy's lead to two runs in the bottom of the fifth.

The Cavaliers threatened again in the eighth, but Vince Conde and Zander Wiel were there to protect Vandy's lead. A pair of singles and a sacrifice bunt put runners in scoring position with one out, but Conde was able to corral two hard-hit grounders up the middle and fire the ball to an outstretched Wiel to limit UVA's damage to one run. Virginia was unable to capitalize on that momentum in the ninth, as Commodore closer Ravenelle came in to induce an easy 1-2-3 inning to seal this game.

The two teams will meet again on Tuesday with the national title hanging in the balance. Vanderbilt is expected to turn to first-round draft choice Tyler Beede on the mound, while Virginia will likely counter with Brandon Waddell. That game is set for 7PM CST and will be broadcast on ESPN.

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