Virginia’s Brandon Waddell took the ball on Tuesday night in Game 2 of the College World Series Finals. His task? Stave off elimination by holding a Vanderbilt team that scored nine runs the previous night, all while outpitching the Commodores’ Tyler Beede, who was also the 14th overall pick by the Giants in this year’s amateur draft.
Waddell did just that, tossing a complete game and allowing just one earned run on five hits, three walks and five strikeouts in the Cavaliers’ 7-2 win. Waddell, who projects as an early-round pick in next year’s draft, threw 74 of his 114 pitches for strikes and moved to 10-3 on the season. His 10th win of the year means the two first-time participants in the CWS Finals will play a third and deciding game on Wednesday.
Vandy got on the board first on Tuesday, flipping the script from Game 1. With one out in the second, John Norwood walked, then stole second and moved to third on a single by Rhett Wiseman. Chris Harvey drove in the first run of the game with a groundout to Waddell, who got out of the inning by getting Jason Delay on a groundout to third baseman Kenny Towns.
Virginia answered in the top of the third against Beede. He retired the first seven batters of the game before Brandon Downes, a seventh-round selection of the Royals, reached on an infield single. Robbie Coman followed with another infield single, which allowed Downes to advance to third on the throw. Junior Brandon Cogswell, who was selected by the A’s in the 27th round this year, laid down a suicide squeeze bunt, scoring Downes to even the score at one.
Waddell and Beede dominated over the next few innings, with the Commodores’ second run coming in the fourth after an error by Towns put the leadoff man on second base. The Cavs were quiet over the next few innings, but put together a three-run rally in the sixth that put them ahead for good.
It started with a single by Mike Papi, a supplemental first-round pick of the Indians this year. Joe McCarthy’s single advanced Papi to third, giving Virginia runners on the corners with nobody out. Derek Fisher tied the game with an RBI fielder’s choice, keeping men on the corners with one out. Fisher, the 37th overall pick in the draft by the Indians, swiped second base, and Towns began to make up for his error with a single that advanced Fisher to third. John La Prise notched the Cavaliers’ second RBI groundout of the inning to put them ahead 3-2, and then Downes followed with the big blow off Beede, a triple that scored Towns and gave Virginia a two-run lead.
Waddell took it from there, completely shutting down the Vanderbilt offense. After the double by Norwood that scored the Commodores’ second run of the game, Waddell retired 14 of the next 15, five of which came by strikeout. Vanderbilt had just three baserunners from the fifth inning on, and two of those were in the ninth when the Cavaliers had a comfortable five-run cushion. The other one was quickly erased on a 4-6-3 double play.
Despite not being able to touch Waddell, Vanderbilt was still within striking distance until the seventh inning. Beede was approaching 100 pitches, but remained in the game with his team down by just two runs. Cogswell started the inning with a single to right. An intentional walk of Papi after Daniel Pinero grounded out gave Virginia men on first and second with one out. A McCarthy single loaded the bases, but Beede got Fisher to ground into a fielder’s choice to get within one out from wriggling out of trouble. Instead, Towns fully atoned for his earlier error, stroking a two-run single to left field to put the Cavaliers up 6-2 and, given the way Waddell was pitching, effectively put the game out of reach.
Beede, the pitcher with the impressive draft night showing just a few weeks ago, finished the night allowing six runs on 10 hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings. On the other hand, Waddell, the undrafted sophomore, looked like a future top pick in keeping his team alive. Since 2003, only two teams that lost Game 1 went on to win the next two and claim the CWS championship. Virginia will look to become the third while winning just the second title ever for the ACC.
Game 3 is Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.