By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — The Vanderbilt Commodores completed a season-long quest Wednesday, defeating Michigan 8-2 to win their second College World Series championship. Vanderbilt came back to win two straight games after losing the opener, and they won for a second time in four overall CWS appearances. It was their first title since 2014, and first time back in the CWS since 2015. Mason Hickman and Jake Eder combined for 14 strikeouts, The Commodores knocked out Michigan ace Karl Kauffmann in the fourth inning. Meanwhile Hickman was striking out 10 in six innings, and surrendered only one hit after Michigan had three in a row and scored a run in the first inning. It was the Commodores school record 59th win against only 12 losses. Michigan finished 50-22.
Vanderbilt set school records for victories, home runs and most players drafted by Major League teams (13). They won both the Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament titles. They also established an SEC record for wins and only lost back-to-back games twice all season long. They are the SEC’s 12th national champion, and the highest ranked national seed (2) to win a championship since Miami in 2001.
After falling behind 1-0 early, Pat DeMarco’s homer in the second, his seventh overall and the 100th of the season for the Commodores, evened the score at 1-1. Vanderbilt got three runs in the third, essentially clinching the game. Stephen Scott’s single drove in two runs and followed a bases-loaded walk to DeMarco. The Commodores would continue to score runs through the remaining innings. Vanderbilt’s pitchers were outstanding through the six games with Kumar Rocker winning the College World Series’ Most Outstanding Player award after giving up only 10 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings and striking out 17. Closer Tyler Brown recorded three saves and had nearly eight (7 2/3) scoreless innings.
Vandy just barely missed its first 60-win season, and this team now can accurately be considered the greatest in Commodore history.