One Win Away

Vanderbilt beats Mississippi State in CWS finals opener

OMAHA, Neb. — There was a lot of noise Monday at TD Ameritrade Park. Vanderbilt and Jack Leiter quieted that early and throughout.

Leiter (11-4) went six strong innings and Vandy put up a seven spot in the opening inning en route to an 8-2 win at TD Ameritrade Park in the first game of the College World Series finals. The Commodores (49-16) are one win away from a national championship, which they can clinch at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Leiter worked around three hits and three walks to surrender just two earned runs. He left after 107 pitches having struck out eight.

Offensively the Commodores exploded for seven in the first and punctuated the frame with a three-run homer by senior Jayson Gonzalez. All of that coming after Mississippi State (48-18) had jumped out to an early lead.

After a 61-minute weather delay at the outset, Leiter got two strike outs before Kamren James planted a 3-1 pitch into the left-field stands giving Mississippi State a quick advantage.

In the bottom half of the frame, however, Enrique Bradfield drew a walk, moved to second on a groundout and stole third after Dominic Keegan walked. Tate Kolwyck was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Parker Noland who took a pitch square in the back to tie the game at 1-all.

CJ Rodriguez came up and knocked a 2-2 pitch for a single to left making it 3-1.

After the inning’s second out, Isaiah Thomas roped a double to left making it 4-1 chasing Mississippi State starter Christian MacLeod (6-6) from the game. But reliever Chase Patrick wasn’t exactly welcomed to the contest.

Gonzalez took his sixth pitch out deep to left for a three-run shot and giving Vanderbilt a 7-1 lead.

MacLeod was charged all seven runs. He walked two hitters, hit two hitters, allowed two hits and threw 38 pitches.

Leiter had retired seven straight before Tanner Allen’s lead-off double in the fourth. Leiter nearly got out of the jam with a strikeout and fly ball to left only to see Logan Tanner roll a single down the line into left, making it 7-2.

The score stayed that way until Gonzalez walked to start the seventh and moved to second on a Bradfield bunt. Carter Young blooped a single to center after that making it 8-2 to provide the final margin.

Vanderbilt’s Nick Maldonado pitched three scoreless innings out of the bullpen to preserve the victory.

Commodores Take Championship Opener by Vanderbilt Athletics on Exposure

In the NCAA Tournament, Leiter is now 3-1 having pitched 27 innings and struck out 44 hitters. He has given up 12 hits, walked nine and surrendered five earned runs to have an ERA of 1.67.

• Leiter now has 179 strikeouts this season, the second-most in a single Vanderbilt season. David Price struck out 194 in 2007.

• Leiter’s 13 wins is the second most in a single Vanderbilt season behind Kumar Rocker (2021), Carson Fulmer (2015) and Tyler Beede (2013), who each recorded 14.

• Bradfield’s stolen base in the first inning gave him 47 for the season, four shy of tying Bob Schabes’ program record of 51 set in 1989.

• Bradfield became the first national stolen base leader to swipe a bag at the College World Series since Wichita State’s Randy Young had two steals vs. LSU on June 1, 1996.

• The Vanderbilt first inning marked the fourth time a team has scored 7+ runs in an inning in a College World Series finals game – two of the four instances have been by Vanderbilt (the Commodores had a 9-run inning against Virginia in 2014).

• The Commodores now trail the all-time series with the Bulldogs 72-54-2. The programs first met in 1913.

• Vanderbilt is 46-1 this season when leading after eight innings.

• Vandy has recorded 770 strikeouts this season, a new program record.

• Vandy is now 20-8 at the College World Series.

• The Dores are 23-5 in their last 28 NCAA Tournament contests.

• Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin is now tied for the 10th-most wins in College World Series history with 20. Rod Dedeaux tops the list with 60.

• Vanderbilt is one win shy of 50 for this season. Only previous times in its history have Vandy won 50 games in a season (2019, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2007).

• Attendance on Monday was announced as 24,052.