The 2014 College World Series began last Saturday with eight teams eying a national championship. Six games later, the playoff picture is starting to clear up, as one team has been eliminated (Louisville), four others are on the brink (UC Irvine, Texas, Texas Tech and Mississippi) and one team is sitting pretty (Vanderbilt).
With the College World Series final less than a week away, let’s take a look at last weekend’s most impressive results.
Vanderbilt keeps on rolling
The Vanderbilt Commodores, making their second College World Series appearance, are one victory away from the best-of-three national championship series. The Commodores defeated Louisville by a score of 5-3 on Saturday and followed up that performance with a 6-4 victory over UC Irvine.
The game didn’t look promising early, as Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede surrendered four runs in the second inning. But head coach Tim Corbin used Walker Buehler in relief, which proved to be a wise decision.
Buehler, who improved to 12-2 on the season, threw 5.1 scoreless innings, striking out seven batters without allowing a hit. The Commodores added three runs in the fifth inning and one in the seventh to secure the win, while Buehler came through when his team needed him most.
"I think the game turned around when Walker came in," Corbin told Ryan Schulz of Vanderbilt’s official athletic site. "There was a momentum change, and he pounded the strike zone from the minute he got in there until the minute the game finished. Very impressive. Very mature approach for the game."
With an impressive 2-0 start to the College World Series, Vanderbilt will have a couple of days off before it plays the winner of UC Irvine and Texas on Friday at 3 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Pitching, timely hitting lifts Virginia
Nathan Kirby threw seven innings of one-hit baseball for the Virginia Cavaliers, but the game against the Ole Miss Rebels wasn’t decided until the bottom of the ninth inning.
With the game tied at one and Virginia down to its final out, Mike Papi delivered in the clutch. The first baseman hit a walk-off double to score Thomas Woodruff and lift the Cavaliers past the Rebels by a score of 2-1.
Not only did Virginia secure a hard-fought victory, but it also found itself in the record books:
Pitching has been the story for the Cavaliers this postseason, as the team has allowed opponents to score more than three runs just once during the College World Series.
As the preseason No. 1, Virginia has had to play with high expectations all season long. By winning games with dominant pitching, as well as with offensive outbursts, the team has proved it can win in a variety of ways.
The team will need to showcase its balance once again when the Cavaliers take on TCU—who beat Texas Tech by a score of 3-2 on Sunday—Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Texas keeps its season alive
After losing to UC Irvine by two runs on Saturday, Texas faced elimination in the losers bracket against the Louisville Cardinals on Monday. But with their backs against the wall, the Longhorns responded, defeating Louisville 4-1.
Pitcher Parker French picked up his seventh win of the season by throwing 7.1 dominant innings, allowing just one run on four hits, while the offense did its part by tallying four runs.
Longhorns coach Augie Garrido was proud of the way his team responded, crediting pitching and preparation as the reasons his team lived to see another day, per the team’s official Twitter account:
Texas now must play its second elimination game of the College World Series as it takes on UC Irvine in a rematch Wednesday at 8 p.m. on ESPN. The Longhorns faced the Anteaters a few days ago on Saturday but suffered a 3-1 loss. Texas took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning, but UC Irvine rallied to score three runs in the eighth to earn the victory.
If the first six games are any indication of what the rest of the College World Series has in store, baseball fans have a lot to look forward to.
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