For a final showdown that was supposed to be all about performances on the mound, Game 1 of the 2014 College World Series offered plenty of offense, surely much to the delight of fans around the globe.
Monday night saw Vanderbilt rattle off nine runs in the third inning off of Virginia ace Nathan Kirby, which proved to be enough for the Commodores to seize Game 1, 9-8.
Given the nature of the sport and the stars set to take the mound on Tuesday night, it appears things will be headed back to a more traditional, pitcher-based duel for Game 2. Here is how to catch the action in a contest that may very well crown a champion.
|Game||Date||Time (ET)||TV Info||Result|
|CWS Finals: Game 1||Monday, June 23||8 p.m.||ESPN||Vanderbilt 9, Virginia 8|
|CWS Finals: Game 2||Tuesday, June 24||8 p.m.||ESPN||TBD|
|CWS Finals: Game 3*||Wednesday, June 25||8 p.m.||ESPN||TBD|
NCAA.com, * denotes if necessary
Pitching Comes Back Into Focus
It is only a matter of time before defense regains control of the College World Series.
Game 1 was a brief reprieve from the overall trend of the past few years, which was brought on by an equipment change in 2011 to better protect the players. Pat Borzi of The New York Times provides the numbers:
There were no home runs in Vanderbilt’s 9-8 victory on Monday in the opener of the best-of-three championship series against Virginia. This year’s total is at this point the fewest in a C.W.S. in the metal bat era, one fewer than last year. Teams hit 32 homers in 2010, the final year at Rosenblatt — eight more than TD Ameritrade has yielded in four seasons as the host ballpark. And the next home run to center field at TD Ameritrade, against the prevailing wind, will be the first.
TD Ameritrade has not been kind to the long ball, which in part will put the fate of the title back in the hands of the pitchers.
Another factor is that Vanderbilt seemingly saved its ace for Tuesday's affair, as Tyler Beede—the No. 14 overall pick in the 2014 MLB draft—will take the mound in an effort to put away the Cavaliers.
On the flip side, Brandon Waddell will be on the mound for Virginia and brings a 9-3 record and 2.57 ERA with him for good measure. His task is no easy one after Kirby was rocked by the very same lineup, but he should fare better after watching nine innings' worth of what the Commodores bring to the plate.
In short, expect things to settle now that the two sides have felt each other out.
Virginia Stays Alive
At face value, it is easy to write off the Cavaliers—especially if one comes across this staggering nugget provided by ESPN Stats & Info:
Since best-of-3 CWS Finals were introduced in 2003, Game 1 winner has gone on to win title 9 of 11 times— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 24, 2014
But that would dismiss the overall trend throughout Monday night's nine-inning affair.
Yes, the Cavaliers were rocked in the third inning as nine runs were pushed across the plate, but overall the game belonged to the Cavaliers. Had the game gone one more inning, Virginia would have likely taken the win, at least based on momentum.
Which team wins Game 2?
Vanderbilt fell off a cliff after the outburst and barely kept the lead. Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin concurs with this notion, per The Associated Press (via ESPN), saying, "We're fortunate to win that game, for sure. No one could have scripted that particular game, and if anyone said they could, they're lying. I don't think you could have called a nine-run inning."
In total, the Cavaliers blasted 15 hits and scored six of their eight runs from the third inning onward in a steady display of batting. Also remember that Waddell leads the charge on the mound for a staff that allowed just four runs in their first three games of the CWS and caused the opposition to hit just .147.
Given the way they were able to hang around after being on the wrong end of an unfathomable inning, now with their backs to the wall, expect the Cavaliers to come out firing on all cylinders to ensure Game 3 on Wednesday is no longer an asterisk, but a requirement.
Prediction: Virginia 7, Vanderbilt 5