When you have a guy like Carson Fulmer on the mound, you probably won’t have to score very often to win that game.
And that’s exactly what happened on Monday night as Vanderbilt took Game One of the College World Series Finals against Virginia by a score of 5-1.
The first runs came in the bottom of the sixth. A two-out rally by Vanderbilt culminated in a Will Toffey two-run double as Virginia starter Connor Jones approached the 100-pitch mark.
That double brought in Zander Wiel and Bryan Reynolds to make it 2-0 Commodores.
Vandy would tack on a third run off of Jones in the 7th inning. Karl Ellison led the inning off with a single, and moved to second with a sac bunt. That brought up leadoff guy Ro Coleman, and he picked up his first hit of the night, an RBI single up the middle. The Coleman single would chase Connor Jones, who pitched really well up until the sixth. But those last two innings really cost him and his team.
Virginia would bring in left fielder Kevin Doherty to pitch, giving up the designated hitter the rest of the way. The first ball in play went to his replacement in left, Thomas Woodruff, for the second out of the inning.
But that also brought up the first overall pick in the MLB Draft, Dansby Swanson. The shortstop, who had been struggling in Omaha, hit a long fly ball the other way to right, getting over the right fielder’s head, bounced off the wall, and allowed Coleman to cross the plate, making the score 4-0.
Swanson took third on a wild pitch, then scored on a single by Reynolds. That hit made Reynolds 8-for-15 overall in the CWS, and put Vanderbilt up 5-0.
During a mound visit after that hit, Doherty was told by his coach he needed to finish out the game, saving as many arms as they can for Tuesday and potentially Wednesday. Doherty then drew a groundout to end the 7th. David Rosenberger would pitch a perfect eighth for UVA as Doherty went back to left field.
Carson Fulmer would be lifted after giving up a two-out double and walk in the top half of the 8th. The junior threw 118 pitches on the night, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out eight.
Not a bad way for Fulmer to end his college career, assuming he isn’t back on the mound Tuesday or Wednesday.
It was scoreless in the early going, as Vanderbilt was unable to take advantage of a couple of situations.
After bad base running in both the second and third innings, Vanderbilt still managed to get two runners in scoring position with two out in the third. Dansby Swanson singled, moving the runner to third, and then on the throw to third, he took second.
But on a full count, Zander Wiel lined out to the first baseman, keeping the game scoreless.
The next threat would come in the top of the 5th, as Virginia got two runners on with one out. Fulmer walked Joe McCarthy and hit Kevin Doherty, putting the bottom of the lineup on base for the second time on the night.
After a visit by the Vanderbilt pitching coach, nine-hole hitter Ernie Clement flew out to right for the second out of the inning, and then Adam Haseley struck out swinging to end it.
That was the only time Fulmer would have any real trouble until the eighth inning.
Vanderbilt figured it out on offense for just long enough in the sixth and seventh innings to take the first game of the best-of-three series behind the stellar work of their starting pitcher. Just like last year’s CWS Final, the Commodores are up 1-0 on the Cavaliers. The two teams will face each other again at 8 PM ET on Tuesday on ESPN as Vanderbilt looks to win its second-consecutive national championship.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports