Let's go ahead and state the obvious: Josh Sborz is a very good pitcher. The Virginia reliever had a 1.70 ERA coming into Tuesday night's second game of the College World Series finals and had allowed just 38 hits and 23 walks in 69 innings. Opponents were batting .160 against him. And Sborz pitched well as the Virginia Cavaliers beat the Vanderbilt Commodores, 3-0, to force a decisive Game 3 on Wednesday night.
But if you listened to the commentary on ESPN, you could be forgiven if you forgot that Sborz pitched four solid innings (three hits, two walks) to five almost as impressive innings by Adam Haseley (four hits, three walks). Oh, and the UVA offense was powered by the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters: Ernie Clement (3-for-4, one RBI) and Thomas Woodruff (3-for-4, two RBIs). A series of unfortunate bounces and bobbles also struck the Vanderbilt infield in the bottom of the sixth inning, the only frame in which either team scored.
The good news for Vanderbilt is that they didn't need to win this game, and Virginia played like it did need to win this game -- and rightly so. The Commodores earned a split over the first two games while getting UVA to burn off its best starter (Connor Jones) and reliever, since it's a near certainty Sborz won't pitch again after throwing 77 pitches Tuesday night. Vanderbilt, meanwhile, can still send Walker Buehler and his 2.85 ERA to the mound at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday. Things got dicier for Vanderbilt on Tuesday simply because the margin for error is gone, but the Commodores' chances of winning a second straight national title are still well within reach.