With the new championship series format of the College World Series, it's not quite as important to stay out of the losers' bracket. But it's still important enough to try to stay on the right side of the double-elimination tournament. So far, so good for the SEC after a sweep in the first two match-ups of the series.
It was clearly not Sonny Gray's day for Vanderbilt. The starter surrendered eight hits and walked five men while throwing 99 pitches in 4.2 innings. None of those are numbers that are going to get you deep into a game, particularly in a double-elimination tournament where the manager has to make decisions based on staying in the winners' bracket. Cue the Vanderbilt offense.
The Commodore bats cranked out five runs against Patrick Johnson, called out by the Tar Heels after just five Vanderbilt hitters. Vandy actually got outhit by UNC -- 11-10 -- but that's why they call it timely hitting. (It might be an annoying term when you're trying to analyze teams, but it's awfully useful when it comes to deciding who wins the game.) Connor Harrell's two-run blast in the sixth inning gave Vanderbilt the lead for good. It was the first home run in the history of Generic Corporately Named CWS Stadium.
The first stolen home run came in Florida's game against Texas. (Because who could have possibly foreseen that a bright silver fence behind the wall might make it easy for umpires to lose the ball?) As a practical matter, Brian Johnson's "double" was more than enough to put the game out of reach, but the only design flaw in GCNCWSS is still a reminder of why instant replay on home-run calls is probably not a bad idea.
Hudson Randall's day wasn't the easiest one on record -- though only one of the four runs Randall allowed was earned. But the 6.2 innings of solid work was enough to nail down the win for himself and the Gators. The five runs allowed by Taylor Jungmann were not his norm, either. It might have taken some lucky performances either for or against the SEC to keep the sweep going. But just call them timely and consider it a great day.