College World Series 2019: TV Schedule and Pick for Michigan-Vanderbilt Game 3

Jake RillAnalyst IJune 26, 2019

Vanderbilt pitcher Kumar Rockeer reacts at the end of the sixth inning against Michigan in Game 2 of the NCAA College World Series baseball finals in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Nati Harnik/Associated Press

The college baseball season all comes down to this: Game 3 of the College World Series between Michigan and Vanderbilt at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.

After the Wolverines notched a 7-4 victory in Game 1, the Commodores bounced back to take Game 2, 4-1. Now, the two teams will play a winner-take-all Game 3 to decide this year's national champion.

While Vanderbilt has only previously won the national title in 2014, Michigan is seeking its third in program history, but its first since 1962.

Here's everything to know heading into Wednesday's Game 3.


Game 3 Information

Date: Wednesday, June 26

Time: 7 p.m. ET


Live Stream: WatchESPN


Preview, Prediction

Nati Harnik/Associated Press

When Vanderbilt has faced elimination situations this postseason, it's been able to confidently turn to freshman right-hander Kumar Rocker. And that was the case again in Tuesday's Game 2 victory over Michigan.

The 19-year-old struck out 11 over 6 innings of one-run ball, allowing only three hits and helping to extend the Commodores' season. In the NCAA tournament, he is 4-0 with a 0.96 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 28 innings.

"The thing that I knew that he would give us is [he would] compete," Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said, according to Zac Ellis of VUCommodores.com. "There was no doubt in my mind ... I felt like we had a chance [Tuesday] with him on the mound."

Now, Vanderbilt and Michigan will both feel the pressure of its season potentially ending in defeat Wednesday night, after the Wolverines had a chance to quickly put away the Commodores in Game 2. This is the fifth time in six years that the best-of-three College World Series finals will require all three games.

While Rocker has been impressive, his postseason is likely over after throwing 104 pitches on Tuesday. The Commodores will turn to right-handed sophomore Mason Hickman to start Game 3, while right-handed junior Karl Kauffmann (2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in College World Series) is expected to start for the Wolverines.

However, if Kauffmann struggles, Michigan could be quick to bring in sophomore right-hander Jeff Criswell, who has thrown 5 scoreless innings in the College World Series.

Although the Commodores have had more recent postseason success, the Wolverines should be prepared for this situation. They won winner-take-all matchups against Creighton and UCLA, the No. 1 seed, earlier in the NCAA tournament.

"We've been herewe've had a lot of repetitions with these types of games," Michigan coach Erik Bakich said, according to Steve Kornacki of MGoBlue.com. "All the adversity that we've faced in the last month, month and a half, it's just callused our mind and guys are very comfortable in these environments and in these spots."

But it's not going to work out as well this time for the Wolverines.

While Wednesday's game should be a tight contest, Vanderbilt has been the better team over the course of the season, and it will use its momentum from Tuesday's must-win Game 2 to notch back-to-back victories and the national championship.

Hickman has been a strong pitcher for the Commodores this season, as he's only given up more than three runs once (April 2 vs. Western Kentucky), and he tossed six scoreless innings in his last start against Louisville this past Friday.

So, expect him to limit Michigan's scoring opportunities while Vanderbilt's offense, led by powerful outfielder JJ Bleday, will break out to lead it to victory.