College World Series Finals 2019: Vanderbilt Wins Game 2 vs. Michigan 4-1

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 26, 2019

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 25:  Pitcher Kumar Rocker #80 of the Vanderbilt Commodores delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Michigan Wolverines during game two of the College World Series Championship Series on June 25, 2019 at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The College World Series Finals are heading to a decisive Game 3 after Vanderbilt evened the series against Michigan on Tuesday.

Following a 7-4 loss in Game 1, Vanderbilt bounced back with a 4-1 victory in Game 2 to tie the best-of-three series at 1-1.

The men's baseball national championship will now be decided Wednesday with either the Commodores or Wolverines taking home the title with a Game 3 win.

Like so many times this month, it was Kumar Rocker who stole the show for Vanderbilt in Game 2.

There were quality pitching performances on each side—including Michigan starter Isaiah Paige—but Rocker was the real hero while finishing with one run and three hits allowed in 6.1 innings. He added 11 strikeouts and only two walks while shutting down the red-hot Michigan lineup.

He was outstanding out of the gate with a dominant effort in the first two innings:


Kumar Rocker...oh my... He has struck out 5️⃣ through 6️⃣ hitters 😳 #CWS | @VandyBoys https://t.co/nGZG9inuZy

The freshman continued to dazzle as the game went on and Vandy built a 4-0 lead:

Jordan Strack @JordanStrack

Ohhhh boy. Kumar Rocker ain’t messing around tonight. Look out folks.

Justin Warmoth @JustinWarmoth

Kumar Rocker is MLB-ready. #CWS

Alec Lewis @alec_lewis

It is a joy to watch Kumar Rocker pitch. The dude's fastball/slider combo as a freshman in college should legit be illegal.

Rocker has been a breakout star during the NCAA tournament, allowing just two runs in 21.2 innings across three starts. He was at his best against Duke with 19 strikeouts in a complete game no-hitter during the super regionals, and he was nearly as good on the mound in Omaha, Nebraska.

Meanwhile, the Vanderbilt offense was able to do just enough to keep the team in control on the scoreboard.

The Commodores scratched a run across in the fifth and then added two more on a pair of Jack Weisenburger wild pitches in the sixth.

The first big hit of the game came in the seventh inning when Philip Clarke came through with a solo home run:


What a laser for Philip Clarke! The solo homer to right increases the Vandy lead to 4. #CWS | @VandyBoys https://t.co/9mTB0VpjWc

Clarke finished 2-for-5 as the only Vanderbilt player with multiple hits in the game.

This was more than enough for the Commodores, as Tyler Brown closed out the game with 2.2 shutout innings.

The two finals teams had very different paths to reach this point.

Vanderbilt was the No. 2 overall seed and faced little resistance over the past few weeks with only one loss in the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, Michigan was only a No. 3 seed in its regional and was a surprise to even reach the super regionals, where it upset top-seeded UCLA.

However, these teams now have an equal chance to raise the trophy Wednesday with one more victory.