Yes, Virginia wins it all
Smith’s hitting and Waddell’s pitching lead Cavaliers in decisive CWS game.
Cavaliers rally to take the last two games against defending champion Vanderbilt and capture their f irst College World Series title.
OMAHA — Pavin Smith hit a home run and drove in three runs, and Brandon Waddell turned in another strong College World Series pitching performance, leading Virginia over Vanderbilt, 4- 2, on Wednesday night for the school’s first baseball national championship.
The Cavaliers ( 44- 24) prevailed in the CWS f inals rematch against the defending champion Commodores and won the Atlantic Coast Conference’s first title in baseball since Wake Forest in 1955.
“This team was a crazy ride this year,” Coach Brian O’Connor said. “Certainly we had a lot that went against us through the year, but this team found a way and got into the NCAA tournament. It’s an amazing example of what you can do if you put your mind to it, play for each other and have each other’s backs.”
Vanderbilt ( 51- 21) scored twice in the f irst inning but Waddell ( 5- 5) settled down and pitched seven innings. He retired the last 11 batters he faced. It was his f ifth career CWS start, and Virginia won each of them.
Nathan Kirby pitched the last two innings and struck out five of the eight batters he faced for his first save.
“At this point, everything goes. If you’ve got anything in the tank, you’re giving it,” Waddell said. “You’ve got nothing to save it for.”
Waddell was pitching on three days’ rest after working the f irst f ive innings of the Cavaliers’ 5- 4 win over Florida on Saturday. Before that, he and Josh Sborz combined on a two- hit, 1- 0 victory over the Gators on June 16.
Sborz, who won three games and pitched 13 scoreless innings, was selected the most outstanding player of the CWS.
Smith stepped up for Virginia after being one for eight and striking out four times in the f irst two games of the three- game championship series.
He hit a two- run home run against Walker Buehler to tie it in the fourth inning singled in the go- ahead run in the f ifth against John Kilichowski ( 3- 4) and played outstanding defense at f irst base.
“This kid has done a great job of hitting in the middle of our order all year long,” O’Connor said. “Him and I had a brief talk in the dugout before the game and I just told him to relax and enjoy the moment.”
PAVIN SMITH of Virginia runs the bases after hitting a two- run home run in the fourth inning.
VIRGINIA CATCHER Matt Thaiss and reliever Nathan Kirby celebrate winning national title.