The 2015 National Championship Series will have a third game as Virginia was able to even up the series on Tuesday night against the Vanderbilt Commodores 3-0. So here are my five snap judgements after game two of the best-of-three series.
1.) Adam Haseley did everything that Brian O’Connor could have asked of him tonight and more. I think most everyone was surprised that the Cavaliers didn’t turn to flame-throwing lefty Nathan Kirby tonight, but the gamble paid off. Haseley pitched five innings (longest outing in a UVA uniform) of four-hit baseball. Remember: Haseley only had four starts all season before tonight’s game. And he shut Vanderbilt down. Though he didn’t get the win tonight, Haseley is a big reason there is a game three on Wednesday night. Josh Sborz was the workhorse everyone expects him to be in four relief innings on Tuesday.
2.) In my series preview piece, I mentioned that Virginia’s offense is good enough to get runners on base, but the real question was could they score them. In the sixth, the Cavs did all of the damage they needed. Even more impressive is that they did it all with two outs.
3.) Vandy couldn’t catch a break all night long. They hit ball after ball right on the screws but right at someone. As Rangers fans would say, “That’s the way baseball goes.” I don’t expect there to be a repeat performance tomorrow night though. The Commodore lineup is too good not to score runs.
4.) Speaking of Vandy not being able to catch a break. The Virginia sixth in which they scored all three of their runs…started with a single up the middle that would/should have been an out. It hit second base. The inning escalated after another single, and an error on the first baseman kept the inning alive. The next two at-bats gave us all of the runs we would see on the night.
5.) If this series seems eerily similar to last year’s national championship, that’s because it is. Vanderbilt looked dominant in game one followed by elite pitching by Virginia in game two. Game three is going to be fun and the two teams will send two of the best pitchers in the country to the mound to cap the season. For Virginia, Nathan Kirby will head to the mound while Vanderbilt will send first-round selection Walker Buehler to the mound. This has been a series dominated by pitching so far, I wouldn’t expect tomorrow to be any different.