Vandy Finishes as National Runner-Up

Commodores drop championship game to Mississippi State

OMAHA, Neb. — Mississippi State rode the lights-out pitching of Will Bednar and taxed Vanderbilt pitching for nine runs in a 9-0 win Wednesday in the national championship game at TD Ameritrade Park.

The College World Series victory gave the Bulldogs (50-18) its first national championship and Mississippi State its first national title in any sport in school history.

Vandy finished its season 49-18 and as national runner-up for the second time in its history as it fell one win short of a third national championship. 

“I think that we lost a lot of emotional energy and physical and mental energy toward the end. You could feel it. Our bats didn’t have the same speed in them, same strength,” Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin said. “We played hard. We were gritty, but that’s probably what got us to this point, to be honest with you. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to be perfect in this thing to win it. We did that in 2014. But you have to have the timely hits. You have to have big hits. You have to have pitching, when it counts. And you have to make plays. And we just didn’t do that. I mean, that’s no slight on the kids. We just didn’t play our best baseball towards the end.

“But I would say this was a real difficult — getting through the Regional was emotional. Getting through the Super Regional was emotional. And then as we got through this, we had to navigate certain situations. And I think it caught up with us. And then the groundswell of momentum over on the other side, you could feel it. And that’s real. It is real especially at this level. But it caught up with us.”

Bednar (9-1) bedazzled for Mississippi State. The freshman went six innings without allowing a hit, struck out four and worked around three walks.

Landon Sims relieved Bednar and finally allowed a Vandy hit, a one-out single to Carter Young in the eighth. But that was all the Commodores could muster all night.

Vanderbilt starter Kumar Rocker (14-4) did not fare as well in what was likely his final outing as a Commodore.

Rowdey Jordan greeted Rocker rudely with a first-pitch single to right field. After a strikeout, Rocker got a comeback, but his throw to second sailed to the right of the bag allowing Bulldog runners to stand at first and third.

Luke Hancock’s sacrifice fly to right-center scored Jordan making it a 1-0 game.

In the second, Rocker issued back-to-back walks to start the frame. One out later, after the runners each moved up 90 feet, Lane Forsythe rolled a ball to short to plate Scotty Dubrule making it a 2-0 game.

Jordan came up and poked a two-out, two-strike RBI double into left making it a 3-0 game.

Mississippi State’s fifth began with a Vanderbilt error and a Tanner Allen single. One out later Hancock rolled a single through the middle upping the score to 4-0 and that was followed by a Logan Tanner single to center making it 5-0 and chasing Rocker from the game.

The junior was charged five runs – four earned – on six hits and two walks. He struck out six over 4 1/3 innings and threw 92 pitches.

“Personally left it all out there,” Rocker said. “And before the season started, I said to myself that I want these young guys to experience exactly what I experienced.

“And I came a game short of that. That’s part of it.”

Tanner hit a solo home run off Vandy reliever Chris McElvain making it 6-0 in the seventh. Kellum Clark added a three-run shot a few moments later making it 9-0.

That was plenty of support for Bednar and Sims. The latter got a groundout to third ending the night and evoking a celebration decades in the making for those in maroon and white.

• Rocker made his 20th start of the season Wednesday, believed to be a modern record for starts in a season by a Vanderbilt pitcher.

• Rocker finished his 28-10 over 236 2/3 innings pitched. He allowed 169 hits, 76 earned runs and 68 walks while striking out 321 hitters.

• The 321 career strikeouts for Rocker are the fourth-most in a Vanderbilt career.

• Rocker’s 179 strikeouts this season tied teammate Jack Leiter for the second most in a single Vanderbilt season.

• Leiter was named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team.

Enrique Bradfield finished with 47 stolen bases for the season, four shy of tying Bob Schabes’ program record of 51 set in 1989.

• The Commodores now trail the all-time series with the Bulldogs 74-54-2. The programs first met in 1913.

• Mississippi State scored in the first inning in all six games against Vanderbilt this season.

• Vanderbilt finished hitting 41-for-229 (.179) during the College World Series and 10-for-86 (.116) in three games against Mississippi State.

• Vandy recorded 790 strikeouts this season, a new program record.

• Vandy’s 91 strikeouts this CWS were a new College World Series.

• Vandy is now 20-10 at the College World Series.

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

• Vanderbilt finished 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 Wednesday was announced as 24,052.