'A Special Moment'

Vandy senior Jayson Gonzalez hits walk-off winner at College World Series

by Chad Bishop


OMAHA, Neb. — It was fitting in a lot of ways that a senior was presented a moment like Saturday night.

Bases loaded, bottom of the 12th, tie game at the College World Series. Jayson Gonzalez won’t ever forget what happened next.

“It was great. It’s just a dream come true to be here, be in this situation,” he said. “We’ve all worked so hard to get to this moment. So it’s a pretty special moment.

“My whole thought process was just try to get a ball over the plate. Put the ball in play and hopefully something good happens out of it. And thankfully something good happened out of that pitch.”

Gonzalez, who was with the program for the 2019 national championship run, but who missed the 2020 season, returned to the Commodores for 2021 and for chances like that. His game-winning single on a 1-2 pitch past a drawn-in infield gave Vanderbilt a 7-6 win over Arizona in the College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park.

Because of Gonzalez’s winner, Vandy moves into the winner’s bracket to play North Carolina State (36-18) at 6 p.m. Monday.



“Jayson is a team guy, always has been. Regardless, whether he’s in the lineup or out of the lineup, he never changes his personality. He’s a phenomenal kid. Will be one of those guys I’ll always be close to,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “But it’s just good to see what he did throughout the game. He was just very consistent in his at-bats and his approach, drew a walk, a tough walk in the seventh. Of course the home run and then the hit at the end.

“Just had a good night. He had a professional night. Happy for him.”

The hit by Gonzalez wasn’t his only memorable moment Saturday. After the Dores found themselves in a 3-0 hole after a half inning, they were still down 3-1 in the fourth when the senior stepped to the plate with a man aboard.

He took a 2-0 pitch and uncorked a two-run home run to right center tying the game at 3-3. It was Gonzalez’s eighth home run of the season and second of the postseason.

Impressive numbers for a player asked to be the nine-hole hitter.



“I would have the same approach if he put me any higher in the lineup, you know?” Gonzalez said. “I’m just glad I’m in the ninth because I get to see a lot more at-bats. I get to see a lot more pitches. And when I get up to the plate I get to know what the pitcher has and what he can land and not.

“So I think my approach would be the same if I’m at the bottom, top, middle, it wouldn’t matter.”

Vanderbilt (46-15) is now 5-0 in College World Series opener, thanks to Gonzalez. But in the hours leading up to that the game was very much in doubt.

Arizona took a 3-0 lead in the first and then a 5-3 lead in the sixth. Vandy responded with three in the seventh – a rally which included a two-run home run from Carter Young that looked like it would hold as the game-winner.

The Wildcats (45-17) scratched a run across with one out in the ninth via sacrifice fly. That sent the game to extra innings where the contest remained tied 6-all.

Vanderbilt got an Isaiah Thomas infield single to begin the 12th, a bunt single from Parker Noland and Javier Vaz walk before Gonzalez came to the dish in front of 23,870 fans.

“Certainly staying inside the ball and spinning the ball inside the ballpark, that takes a strong man to do that,” Corbin said of Gonzalez’s winner. “And at the end it’s just, they’re positioned in such a way where they have to be in order to try to contain the game themselves.

“So it’s one of those situations that it’s basically touching the ball and that ball just found an area of the field that wasn’t covered.”

— Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com.
Follow him @MrChadBishop.