Vanderbilt Eyes National Championship

OMAHA-- Vanderbilt's amazing season continued on Monday night as the Commodores beat Virginia 9-8 and pulled to within one victory of a baseball national championship.

Things looked bleak when the Commodores fell behind early 2-0 in the first inning. Vanderbilt starter Walker Buehler gave up four hits and two runs in the that inning. Meanwhile, Vandy's batters went three up, three down in the 'Dores first stanza. In the second inning the 'Dore batters didn't look too much better but then came third inning.

In the Vandy third starter Nathan Kirby, who had four strikeouts in the first two innings, suddenly began to have major control issues. After the Vandy leadoff batter, Chris Harvey, struck out things started to turn for the Commodores. Following Jason Delay's earned walk series hero Tyler Campbell doubled to left putting Delay on third and Vandy was on their way to a huge inning. Virginia pitchers (Kirby was replaced) gave up a combined five walks, 3 hits and an incredible 9 runs with the superman Campbell picking up a second double near the end of the huge inning to score three of the runs. Earlier Dansby Swanson beat out a throw to first to keep the inning going which allowed Campbell's second big hit.

Vanderbilt had a seemingly safe 9-2 lead but as with other fine opponents Vanderbilt has faced in the NCAA tournament, Virginia would not go down easily. The Cavaliers quickly responded with four hits and three runs in the bottom of the third to pull the score to a more manageable 9-5.

In the fourth Vanderbilt replaced Buehler with lefty Jared Miller who pitched a scoreless initial inning but was jumped on for two runs, making the score a more shaky 9-7 in the fifth. Vandy turned to another lefty, freshman John Kilichowski, at the beginning of the sixth. Kilichowski responded to the call and pitched three solid innings, allowing only one run while striking out two and walking no one.

In the ninth, with Vanderbilt clinging to a narrow 9-8 lead, Adam Ravenelle relieved Kilichowski and promptly pitched a fly ball and then ground ball out for two quick outs. Ravenelle then finished off the historic Commodore win when Virginia's Brandon Downes fouled out to first ending the game.

Vanderbilt will play Virginia again tomorrow night at 7 pm CT. If Vandy wins the Commodores are national champions. If Virginia wins the two teams will play again for the title on Wednesday with the winner taking all.

Miller (7-2) earned the victory for Vanderbilt pitching two innings and allowing five hits, one walk and two earned runs.

Vanderbilt improved to 50-20 with the win. Virginia fell to 52-15 with the loss.

A win tomorrow or Wednesday by Vanderbilt would mark the school's first ever national championship in a major sport and second national championship overall (Women's bowling, 2007). Top Stories