The biggest criticism of the College World Series games held at TD Ameritrade Park has been that they're boring. And there's something to that. While we can disagree about the mix of offense and pitching that makes for an ideal college baseball game, most of us would agree that Omaha's latest baseball park errs too much on the side of pitching. However, of all the words that could be used to describe Vanderbilt's 9-8 win Monday in the first game of this year's national championship series, "boring" would not be one of them.
Bizarre might be the best. The third inning featured 12 runs, 21 plate appearances, seven hits and seven walks or hit batsmen. Vanderbilt scored all nine of its runs in its half of that inning, with only two hits getting out of the infield. Virginia outhit the Commodores 15-6 overall. The Cavaliers became the first team to scored five or more runs and lose a College World Series game at TD Ameritrade; they almost came back from a 9-2 deficit. And in part because of that, the game eclipsed the previous record for runs in a CWS game at that stadium, according to ESPN.
And despite the fact that the biggest factor in their win might have been the sudden and inexplicable implosion of the Virginia pitching staff in the third inning, the Commodores did a lot to earn this win. A series of great defensive plays in the eighth inning preserved a lead, even if it would be a one-run edge by the time the inning was over. Adam Ravenelle needed eight pitches in a superb ninth-inning save. Ravenelle wound up being the only Vanderbilt pitcher not to allow at least one run on the night.
As we noted in our preview, the team that wins the first game in the championship series has almost always gone on to win the title; only twice in 11 tries has a team that lost the first game managed to come back and take the series. Vanderbilt now has a big advantage.
Of course, they had a big advantage Monday and almost threw it away. No reason to make the same mistake twice.