Last year, Vanderbilt used their only home run of the College World Series to clinch their first ever men's NCAA Championship. Now, a Virginia team that was one misplaced pitch away from a title in 2014 will get a chance for revenge.
Vanderbilt and Virginia will meet in the College World Series Championship for the second straight year starting on Monday night. Despite each team's credentials, they took a crooked path to set up this title-settling rematch. After beginning the season as D1Baseball.com's #1 (Vandy) and #3 (Virginia) programs, each team slumped their way to disappointing midseason defeats that eventually dropped them from National Seed consideration. Though the Commodores rebounded to clinch the SEC East title and advance to the SEC Tournament championship game, things weren't as easy for the Cavaliers.
Virginia entered the NCAA Tournament on the periphery of the top 25 and slid all the way to a #3 seed when the bracket was drawn. They've caught fire since losing three straight games to close out the ACC Tournament. The Cavaliers went three weeks without losing a game before falling to Florida at the College World Series, then shook off that loss to set up tomorrow's championship rematch.
Historically, the Commodores will have an edge when the series starts on Monday night. Reigning champions have returned to the CWS championship 12 times. Those teams have defended their title nine times. This year's final will be also the third time in NCAA history that two teams have met in championship series in back-to-back years. In each case, the team that won the first year went on to repeat.
While history may be on Vanderbilt's side, each team has a certain "team of destiny" feel. The Commodores are loaded with MLB Draft picks and have used some clutch home runs to advance through their bracket in Omaha. Virginia is running down an underdog dream by rolling through their opponents despite a "#3" next to their name. Let's take a closer look at the 'Hoos and what they'll have to offer this week.