June 18, 2011
Vanderbilt wins its inaugural
Commodores top Tar Heels in first game at
TD Ameritrade Park
By Jimmy Jones
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
(photos by Jimmy Jones)
Neb. - The sixth-seeded Vanderbilt Commodores sure don't act
like first-time qualifiers as they continue to write their names
into the history books by defeating third- seed North Carolina
7-3 in the inaugural College World Series game at TD Ameritrade
Park in front of 22,745 sun-drenched fans on Saturday afternoon.
Both teams scored early in a back-and-forth
affair and the Tar Heels (50-15) were able to capitalize on an
uncharacteristic bout of wildness from VU starter Sonny Gray to
take a 3-2 advantage into the sixth inning.
Gray, the Oakland Athletics' first-round draft
choice, was victimized by five walks and gave up eight hits and
three runs in 4.2 innings, his second shortest stint in 18
starts since the season opener, before giving way to lefty Corey
Williams after walking the bases loaded.
(right) shut the door with a strikeout and sophomore Connor
Harrell (pictured above) provided the offensive impetus for
Vanderbilt (53-10) with a towering drive over the left field
bullpen in the sixth with a runner aboard to give his squad the
lead and the momentum moments after freshman Conrad Gregor tied
the game with a double off the wall.
It was the first World Series home run ever
recorded at the new $131-million facility and the eighth of the
campaign for the Commodores centerfielder.
“We knew [Patrick] Johnson has a pretty good
arm,” Harrell said. “He was living off the outside part of the
plate and was throwing breaking balls. He left it up per se, and
I got it in that jet stream.”
The Dores put two more on the board on
back-to-back singles by Tony Kemp, his third hit of the game,
and Anthony Gomez to effectively place the game out of reach as
Williams, Will Clinard and freshman Kevin Ziomek combined to
shut the Tar Heels out the rest of the way.
“That was a big victory for us,” Vanderbilt coach
Tim Corbin said. “You never know how you're going to react the
“The fifth inning was the decider. They had 20
guys reach base today. The fact they scored three runs, we're
fortunate. Corey's strikeout with the bases loaded was big.”
UNC stranded 16 runners in the contest.
Tar Heel starter Patrick Johnson (13-2) was
saddled with the loss. He pitched six innings and allowed just
six hits, but the Commodores scored five runs, four earned, to
chase him from the game.
“I definitely didn't have my best stuff,” Johnson
said. “They're such a good hitting team. You can't leave balls
over the middle of the plate. I did that a couple times today,
and they made me pay. But I wasn't as sharp as I've been.”
Williams will have his name in the history books
in perpetuity as he earned the first win in the new park. He
worked 2.2 innings allowing two hits and issued one walk to go
along with five strikeouts.
The Commodores await the winner of Saturday
night’s Texas-Florida game. They will meet on Monday evening at
6 p.m. CT.