The Vanderbilt Commodores are national champions after defeating the Michigan Wolverines 8-2 in Wednesday night's decisive Game 3 of the 2019 College World Series Finals at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, Nebraska.
The title is the Commodores' first since 2014 and helps to avenge their 2015 loss to Virginia.
Following Oregon State's blueprint from last year, Vanderbilt was able to win back-to-back games after Michigan dominated the first game 7-4.
Michigan's first inning had undertones of Game 1. The Wolverines knocked three consecutive base hits off Vanderbilt starter Mason Hickman to begin the game, which resulted in an early 1-0 lead. But the rest of Game 3 basically replicated Game 2, as Vanderbilt's pitching shut down Michigan.
Hickman exited the game with a 6-1 lead after six innings, 10 strikeouts and the one earned run. He finished his outing by retiring seven straight Wolverines.
Vanderbilt freshman starting pitcher Kumar Rocker, who won Game 2 to force Game 3, was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
Michigan's pitchers didn't have a night to remember on the mound after they had dominated since arriving in Omaha.
With the game tied 1-1—thanks to a Pat DeMarco solo shot in the bottom of the second inning—and two already gone in the bottom of the third, Michigan starter Karl Kauffmann opted to walk JJ Bleday, who has a Division I-leading 27 home runs.
The decision came back to bite Michigan, as Vandy's next two batters also reached base. Kauffmann then walked in a run, and Stephen Scott smacked a two-run single up the middle to give Vanderbilt a 4-1 lead.
The Wolverines will circle the top the fourth as the opportunity that got away, as they also found themselves in a bases-loaded, two-out situation but failed to plate any runs.
Instead, the Commodores extended their lead to 6-1 in the bottom of the frame with a one-run single from Bleday and sacrifice fly from Ethan Paul.
Vanderbilt's seventh run came from a seventh-inning single by Harrison Ray, and the team's final run of the season fittingly came when Bleday crossed home plate for what's expected to be his final time collegiately in the bottom of the eighth.
After knocking three hits in the top of the first, the Wolverines managed only three hits for the rest of the game. Michigan came up just short of becoming the first Big Ten school to capture a college baseball championship since 1966. The Wolverines haven't topped college baseball since 1962.
Even so, Erik Bakich's squad has plenty to take pride in, as Michigan went from one of the Last Four teams in to taking out No. 1 overall seed UCLA and being one of the last two teams standing.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt's roster is filled with championship-caliber talent, as the program tied an SEC record by having 13 players taken in the 2019 MLB draft. Among them is Bleday, who is soon expected to sign his contract with the Miami Marlins after the franchise took him fourth overall.
Vanderbilt finishes its 2019 campaign with a 59-12 record, the most wins in program history, and the second championship in program history.