OMAHA, Neb. — Mason Hickman and Jake Eder combined for 14 strikeouts, Vanderbilt knocked out Michigan ace Karl Kauffmann in the fourth inning, and the Commodores won the College World Series with an 8-2 victory in Game 3 of the finals Wednesday night.
Vanderbilt (59-12) won its second title in its four CWS appearances, all since 2011. The other one came in 2014.
Hickman struck out 10 in six innings and limited the Wolverines (50-22) to one hit after he gave up three in a row to start the game.
Kauffmann, making his third start in this CWS, struggled with his control, and Vanderbilt broke open the game with three runs in the third inning and two in the fourth.
The Commodores were a model of consistency from start to finish this season. They swept the SEC regular-season and tournament titles, set the league record for wins, tied the record with 13 draft picks and lost back-to-back games just twice.
“It’s maturity,” coach Tim Corbin said. “It’s maturity and the ability to stay centered for a long period of time. I don’t have any other word for it. It helps having seven seniors back, and the seven seniors deserve this. It came full circle for them and I’m very happy for them.”
Photo: Nati Harnik / Associated Press
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Freshman Kumar Rocker, who was dominant in two CWS starts for the Commodores, was named Most Outstanding Player.
Vanderbilt is the sixth national champion from the SEC since 2009 and 12th overall, second only to the 18 won by the Pac-12 and its previous iterations.
The loss ended a surprising postseason run for Michigan, which went from being one of the last four teams picked for the 64-team NCAA Tournament to becoming the first Big Ten team to play in the finals since Ohio State in 1966.
Michigan coach Erik Bakich was an assistant to Corbin for seven years at Vanderbilt, and the two remain close friends.
“He’s put together a remarkable year with those guys,” Corbin said. “Where they came from … they gave us everything we wanted and more.”
Though the Commodores brought to Omaha an offense ranked in the top five nationally in the major categories, it was pitching that carried them for most of their stay.
Vanderbilt had eight runs on nine hits Wednesday, but its .221 average in six CWS games was the lowest for a national champion in the aluminum bat era that started in 1974.
The title came three seasons after Vanderbilt freshman pitcher Donny Everett drowned prior to the start of the NCAA tournament. The seniors on this year’s team were his teammates. Corbin also mentioned former athletic director David Williams, who died in February.
“It’s very fitting,” Corbin said. “Sometimes you don’t get what you want in life. We’re fortunate we get to do this. We lived through that. This is a gift for the Everetts, this is a gift for David Williams, this is a gift for Vanderbilt University.”
Eric Olson is an Associated Press writer.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Vanderbilt-beats-Michigan-to-win-second-College-14054601.php.