Vanderbilt won its first ever men's NCAA Championship on Wednesday, beating Virginia in a 3-2 nailbiter to claim the 2014 College World Series. Center fielder John Norwood, who inexplicably went undrafted just a few weeks ago, blasted the game-winning home run off the previously untouchable UVA closer Nick Howard to deliver a cathartic CWS win for the Commodores.
Vanderbilt struck first, getting a run when Dansby Swanson came home after stealing third thanks to an error by Virginia catcher Robbie Coman. The 'Dores would threaten by putting two runners on, but Vince Conde struck out to keep the Vandy lead at 1-0. The Commodores added one more in the sixth thanks in part to another UVA error. John Norwood's infield single turned into a double thanks to a sloppy play from Kenny Towns, and he came home to score on Conde's single two plays later.
UVA responded in the bottom of the inning to even this one up. Coman led off the inning with a single and progress to second on a diving stop by second baseman Dansby Swanson. He'd come home thanks to a Daniel Pinero single, and soon the bases were loaded for Vandy reliever Hayden Stone. Stone appeared to get out of the inning on a hard hit line drive to short, but Gold Glove winner Vince Conde couldn't corral the ball, giving the Cavaliers new life with three innings left to play.
It stayed knotted until John "the Baseball Roller Coaster" Norwood blasted Vanderbilt's first home run of the 2014 College World Series to give the 'Dores a 3-2 lead in the top of the eighth.
UVA threatened in the bottom of the inning by loading the bases with one out, but Adam Ravenelle pitched out of the jam by inducing a pair of ground outs - including a huge play by previously rattled SS Conde - to finish the inning and send this game into the ninth.
That put the pressure on Vandy closer Adam Ravenelle. Right fielder Rhett Wiseman bailed him out on a hard hit liner to right to record the first out. He then got leadoff man Branden Cogswell with a swinging strikeout and then fanned Daniel Pinero to end the 2014 season with the greatest accomplishment in Vanderbilt athletic history.
Anchor down. If you need me, I'll be discussing this win with a few of my neighbors and a bottle of scotch.