OMAHA, Neb. — Vanderbilt swept the Southeastern Conference 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.
Now the Commodores are national champions.
Mason Hickman and Jake Eder combined for 14 strikeouts, Michigan ace Karl Kauffmann was knocked out 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.
Vandy (59-12) won its second title in its four CWS appearances, all since 2011. The other one came in 2014.
“I felt we were going to hit well, I felt we were going to play well. I thought this was going to be a nice night for the kids,” coach Tim Corbin said.
Freshman Kumar Rocker, who was dominant in two CWS starts, was selected the Most Outstanding Player.
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 the CWS, struggled with his control, and Vandy broke open the game with three runs in the third inning and two in the fourth.
When Ako Thomas flew out to center to end the game, the Vandy dugout and bullpen emptied and catcher Philip Clarke sprinted to the mound to embrace Eder.
During the postgame celebration, Vandy players invited Teddy and Susan Everett to join them on the stage set up behind home plate. Their son, Donny Everett, was a star freshman pitcher on the 2016 team and drowned before the start of that year’s NCAA Tournament. The seniors on this year’s team were his teammate.
“Those two mean so much to this program and all the players and the seniors,” shortstop Ethan Paul said. “To this day, every time I look at Teddy I think of Donny, and just being able to share that moment with them was something we all really wanted to do.”