Vanderbilt University looked poised to repeat as national champions in the first inning of Wednesday night’s winner-take-all College World Series Game 3 when No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson drove in a run with a groundout to third base and 12th-round draft pick Zander Wiel followed with an RBI double.
But those were the only two runs the Commodores would score in an eventual 4-2 loss to Virginia.
UVA tied the game in top of the fourth inning on a two-run homer to right field by standout freshman Pavin Smith and then took the lead for good in the top of the fifth inning when Smith smacked an RBI single to left. Kenny Towns, a 20th-round pick of the Angels in this month’s MLB Draft, poured on another insurance run for the Cavaliers in the top of the seventh inning with an RBI single of his own.
Virginia left-hander Brandon Waddell was locked in after that shaky first inning, yielding only two hits over his final six frames. Nathan Kirby, whom the Brewers took 40th overall earlier this month, entered in the eighth and struck out the first batter he faced. Kirby then walked Vanderbilt’s Rhett Wiseman, but he got Swanson on a check-swing strikeout and Wiel on a full whiff. Kirby yielded a two-out single in the ninth but pinch-hitter Kyle Smith couldn’t extend the action, watching a nasty 1-2 slider that wound up in the center of the plate.
UVA is only the third school to drop the first game of a College World Series Final and go on to win it all.
This is also the first national championship in baseball for the ACC since 1955, when Wake Forest won.