Well, nobody saw the outcome of Game 1 of the 2014 College World Series coming.
Vanderbilt took the victory over Virginia 9-8, and the Commodores are now close to winning their first ever national championship in a men's sport:
Vanderbilt wins Game 1 of CWS Final over Virginia, 9-8. Commodores now one win away from National Championship. pic.twitter.com/fPl8I3Qlxs— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 24, 2014
The reason nobody saw the 9-8 win coming was because of the Cavaliers' starter. Nathan Kirby, nearly untouchable all season, was roughed up in a nine-run third inning for the Commodores. Usually efficient, Kirby surrendered back-to-back-to-back walks with the bases loaded as part of a string of 14 of 26 pitches out of the strike zone.
Yeah, Monday night wasn't pretty for the team's ace.
The Cavaliers now have to step up in Game 2 or this CWS will be over. Below you'll find all the critical information you need to know for the game, as well as a preview.
Game 2 can be seen online at WatchESPN.com.
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||Result||TV Info|
|CWS Finals: Game 1||June 23||8 p.m.||Vanderbilt 9, UVA 8||ESPN|
|CWS Finals: Game 2||June 24||8 p.m.||TBD||ESPN|
|CWS Finals: Game 3*||June 25||8 p.m.||TBD||ESPN|
After Virginia defeated Ole Miss in Omaha, head coach Brian O'Connor told the Associated Press that he was very confident in his pitchers, via ESPN.com:
I thought we would be pretty darn good in Omaha on the mound. I really did. Obviously, the spacious ballpark and our ability to defend have a lot to do with it. What we've done all year is throw strikes. Our walk numbers are ridiculously low. And we've got really good arms.
Kirby went against the norms on Monday, as he had issues throwing strikes and preventing free passes. Even when he retired the first seven batters he faced, Chris Graham of the Augusta Free Press pointed out that he still didn't look great:
Even when Kirby was rolling Monday night, retiring the first seven Vanderbilt hitters that he faced, the appearances were deceiving. He had gone to two 3-0 counts on hitters in the second, and had another 2-0 count in the first, and had been bailed out by aggressive swings on pitches by Commodore hitters who had the count in their favor. Through two, he had thrown 26 pitches, 15 of them strikes, not bad, given the results, but he wasn’t exactly sharp, either.
To be fair, Vanderbilt pitchers weren't great either. After scoring nine runs in the third inning, all the Commodores had to do was get outs. They got enough outs to win, but not before Virginia made the game interesting. They scored three in the third, two in the fifth and one in the eighth after being down 9-2 entering the bottom half of the third inning.
In Game 2, watch for the consistency of both teams on offense. Virginia capitalized on multiple occasions, scoring in several different innings to keep Commodores head coach Tim Corbin on the phone with the bullpen constantly.
Which team will win the College World Series?
Vanderbilt, on the other hand, took advantage of a poor inning from Kirby. Sure, they exploded for nine runs, but the offense was stagnant the rest of the way. The bats really need to pick up the consistency in Game 2, especially because we probably won't see another outing like Kirby's.
Overall, Vandy got just six hits in the game. The team benefited from patience at the plate and timely hitting, but six hits generally aren't enough to win a baseball game.
It's hard to win two games in a row in the College World Series, but Virginia is a team equipped to do it. If they can couple last night's consistent hitting with their usual dominant pitching, the Cavaliers will win Games 2 and 3.
That said, Game 2 will be crucial. It will be interesting to see if they come out flat following last night's heartbreak. Vandy really has a chance to step on the throats of the Cavs by scoring early on.
Look for both teams to play an emotional game, but I think Virginia will end up taking Game 2.
Follow Kenny DeJohn on Twitter: