CWS Finals: Game Three In PicturesPhoto Gallery
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OMAHA — I don’t believe in soothsayers, crystal balls, gypsies or Ouija boards. But if you would have told me on Thursday February 14th that the future would behold the Vanderbilt Commodores winning the national title on June 26th, I would’ve said, “Yep, I totally believe it.”
Well, here we are 132 days later and look who is holding up the national championship trophy here in Omaha on a random Wednesday night? That’s right, the Anchor Down Boys themselves. On a night when the pitching matchup of VU’s Mason Hickman and UofM’s Karl Kauffmann took center stage, it was the Commodores who took home the big brass spittoon, beating Michigan 8-2 in what turned out to be a big boat race to the finish.
Kaufmann and his cohort Jeff Criswell were rested and ready to go, but it became apparent pretty early that Kauffmann’s third start of the CWS was not going to go as well as the previous two. Even after the Wolverine offense started the game with three straight singles to take a UofM-like 1-0 lead after half an inning, the Commodores would not be denied.
VU came into the game with a .208 team batting average in the first five CWS games. But on Wednesday night, with all the pressure of the world on their shoulders, the Black and Old Gold posted nine hits and eight walks to make this game three less stressful than any game threes in recent memory.
After a rough start, Mason Hickman settled in and teamed with reliever Jake Eder to hold the hot-hitting Wolverines to just three more hits after that first inning barrage.
Also, Hickman would go on to toss 10 strikeouts in his 6.0 innings of work and Eder would add four more punchouts to account for Michigan’s 14 strikeouts.
This is Vanderbilt’s second national title in five years, putting their stamp of national elite status on firm footing. And considering their incoming recruiting classes have been ranked No. 1 for seemingly the last six to seven years, this obviously is a Commodore program which isn’t going to fall off the map too far, despite losing a good bit of talent for next year.
As for Michigan? Well this was a watershed year for the Wolverines. Despite the preseason ranking of No. 17, they didn’t play like a top 20 team all season long. But once the post-season hit, it was Katie-bar-the-door as they played on a different level. They won the Regionals at Corvallis and then the Super Regionals at UCLA, doubly shocking the country in becoming just the second Big 10 team to make the Field of Eight in the promised land since 1984, when Barry Larkin and Chris Sabo were wandering the Wolverine defense.
Michigan came within a game of winning the national championship. Michigan. Let that sink in for a minute.
Great season for both teams. Great finish for both teams too.
Some more images from Wednesday’s title game…