The College World Series finals began last night and, since those finals are the best of three, it could be all wrapped up tonight. If it is, Vanderbilt will have taken home its first national championship in a men’s sport. Any sport.
That’s because Vanderbilt won a barnburner over Virginia, 9-8. Not that it was easy. It started that way, with the Commodores coming back from being down 2-0 early by scoring nine runs against Virginia starter Nathan Kirby in the third. Virginia chiseled away, though, scoring three more in the bottom of the third, two in the fifth and one more in the bottom of the eighth. It could’ve been two in the eighth, but Vanderbilt reliever John Kilichowski managed to kick the ball on a comebacker that very easily could’ve made it through the infield, preventing the tying run from scoring. After an uneventful ninth, Vandy took the 1-0 series lead.
While it may just be one game, the first game has mattered a whole heck of a lot since the College World Series went to a best-of-three final in 2003. In that time, seven of the 11 finals have been two-game sweeps. Only twice in the 11 years of the three-game format has the team that lost the first game gone on to win it all.
Of course, Virginia already had to do something that rarely happens in order to win this thing, as no ACC team has won the College World Series since 1955. That, of course, is just a historical curiosity that has no bearing on what happens in 2014. Being down 1-0 in a three-game set, however, does make things tangibly and empirically harder.
Game two is tonight at 8PM Eastern. Game three, if necessary, is tomorrow night at the same time.
Earlier, Craig asked if Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber would play the outfield now that the World Series has come to Chicago, where there will be no DH. The answer to that is no, it appears. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said that Schwarber has not been medically cleared to play the outfield, CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports.
Schwarber returned to the Cubs sooner than expected after suffering a fully-torn ACL and LCL in his left leg during an early April collision with teammate Dexter Fowler in Arizona. In preparation to join the Cubs for the World Series, Schwarber went to the Arizona Fall League and reportedly saw over 1,000 pitches from machines as well as Single-A pitchers. He doesn’t look like he’s missed a beat as he went 1-for-3 with a walk and a double (that was very nearly a home run) in Game 1, then drew a walk and hit two RBI singles in five plate appearances in Game 2.
At least right now, however, it appears Schwarber will serve as a bat off the bench for Games 3, 4, and 5 until he gets medical clearance.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported on Thursday that Astros bench coach Trey Hillman is leaving the team to manage the SK Wyverns in South Korea. According to Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News, Hillman will earn $600,000 in each of two years plus a $400,000 signing bonus.
Hillman, 53, managed the Royals from 2008-10 but the team wasn’t very successful, putting up a 152-207 record before he was fired early in the 2010 season. Hillman was the bench coach for the Dodgers from 2011-13, served as a special assistant for the Yankees in 2014, and had been the Astros’ bench coach for the past two seasons.
Per MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart, the Astros released a statement which read:
Trey Hillman has accepted the managerial position of the SK Wyverns baseball club of the South Korean Professional Baseball League (KBO). We thank Trey for his contributions to the Astros success over the past two seasons and wish him the very best.
This won’t be Hillman’s first time working in baseball overseas. He managed the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japan Pacific League from 2003-07.