Vanderbilt needs one more win to bring home their second straight - and second-ever - NCAA Men's Baseball championship. They'll have to beat Virginia one more time to get there.
The Commodores broke open a 0-0 pitcher's duel with two runs in the sixth inning and three more in the seventh to take a 5-0 lead and send Carson Fulmer out a winner in his last start in black and gold. Fulmer threw 7.2 shutout innings and allowed only two hits to keep Vandy's NCAA Tournament winning streak alive.
More importantly, the Commodores got key contributions from bats that had lay dormant in Omaha leading up to the championship series. Ro Coleman, Dansby Swanson, and Will Toffey had two hits between them in the College World Series. On Monday night, they combined to go 4-11 with four RBI and two runs. Each slumping player managed to drive a run home for his team in game one against UVA.
Cavalier pitcher Connor Jones was stellar through five innings last night, but he ran into late and couldn't escape key jams once his pitch count hit the 90s. Now, Virginia has a choice to make at starting pitcher. The Cavaliers turned to returning ace Nathan Kirby in their second matchup against Florida last week, but the lefty was knocked around in his first start in two months. If he's fully recovered from a lat strain that took him out of the lineup and has scraped off all the rust that inactivity laid on him then he's UVA's most dependable threat. However, if the 'Hoos are still uncertain on Kirby, they'll likely turn to Brandon Waddell, who held the Gators to two hits over seven innings eight days ago.
Things won't be as hazy in the Commodore lineup. Philip Pfeifer shut out TCU in his last start and has earned his team's confidence this postseason. He'll get the ball with a chance to win Vanderbilt a national title Tuesday night.
Game two will start at 7pm CST and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. You can follow Joe Fisher's Vanderbilt-flavored call on 95.9 FM in Nashville or online thanks to VUCommodores.com. And, as always, you can join us in the GameThread here to discuss why you'd walk Zander Wiel to get to Bryan Reynolds and what proper anti-jinx quarantine procedures are.
Vanderbilt: Philip Pfeifer (6-4, 3.77 ERA, 112 Ks in 90.2 innings)
Virginia: Nathan Kirby (5-3, 2.61, 76 in 62)
or Brandon Waddell (4-5, 4.02, 87 in 103)