Wild Finish Keeps Vandy's Season Alive

Spencer Jones scores on walk-off wild pitch to beat Stanford

OMAHA, Neb. — Vanderbilt got off the deck Wednesday for one of the most-improbable wins in its postseason history.

Down 5-4 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Commodores scratched across two runs, the final one coming on a wild pitch to Carter Young that allowed Spencer Jones to race home with the winning run – the sophomore, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter, had his jersey ripped off in the chaotic celebration.

Vanderbilt (47-16) survives to face North Carolina State at 1 p.m. CT Friday. It will need to beat the Wolfpack (37-18) then and then again at 1 p.m. Saturday in order to advance to the championship series.

All that was made possible by a six-pitch walk to Javier Vaz with two outs against Stanford’s top starting pitcher Brendan Beck, who had come on in relief. In came Jones to pinch hit for senior Jayson Gonzalez and the lefty bounced a chopper to deep short.

Jones would have beaten the throw anyway, but that toss sailed wide of first allowing Vaz to head to third. Up strode freshman Enrique Bradfield, who ripped a first-pitch single to right that scored Vaz to tie the game.

Then, with Young at the plate and after a pitch, Beck’s final throw sailed way high and to the backstop, giving Jones the freedom to run home and the Dores to walk off.

The ending was a dramatic opposite to the start for Vanderbilt.

Vandy freshman pitcher Christian Little ran into trouble early when Eddie Park’s grounder to third was dropped by Gonzalez and then Tim Tawa ripped a clean single to left. Brock Jones lined out to second, but Parker Noland’s throw to second for a possible double play sailed into left field.

Park came all the way in to score giving the Cardinal a 1-0 lead.

After Tawa stole third, though, Gonzalez saved a run by getting Tawa at the plate after a grounder to third and Little left the first down just 1-0.

Brock Jones hit a solo home run out to right with one out in the third making it 2-0.

In the fourth, Nick Brueser lobbed a soft single into left field for a lead-off single. Brueser stole second before Drew Bowser walked.

That would be the end of the line for Little, who threw 70 pitches in 3+ innings. He was charged with four runs – only one earned – on four hits and two walks.

Nick Maldonado came in from the Vandy pen and got a strikeout and what may have been a double-play ball to short, but Young bobbled the grounder leaving the bases loaded with one out.

A bases loaded walk to Park brought in another run to make it 3-0 and then Jones beat out a dribbler to the left side of the mound making it 4-0.

Dominic Keegan got two of those runs back emphatically with a two-run shot to left in the bottom of the inning cutting the deficit in half.

The sixth inning started with an Adam Crampton single to center and then a wild pitch. Maldonado looked like he might escape trouble with a groundout to third – Jone came up with other ideas.

His two-strike double into the right-field corner made it 5-2 Cardinal.

Bradfield started the bottom of that frame with a walk and then sped to third on Keegan’s sharp single to centerfield. Jacob Palisch came in to face pinch-hitter Tate Kolwyck.

Kolwyck took Palisch’s second offering to right for an RBI single cutting the score to 5-3. After a fly out to center, Noland drove an RBI single of his own to center making the score 5-4.

That’s the way the score would stay until the very, very last moments.

Stanford starter Quinn Williams had his longest (6 1/3 innings) since going that same distance May 1 against Southern California. The sophomore was charged with four earned runs.

• Vanderbilt is now 11-9 all-time against Stanford.

• The Commodores had held nine straight opponents to nine hits or less before Stanford totaled 10 Wednesday.

• Only twice this season has Vandy lost back-to-back games and the Commodores are now 13-2 when following a loss.

• Vanderbilt is now 2-15 when trailing after eight innings this season.

• The Dores are now 18-8 at the College World Series and 26-8 in its last 34 postseason games.

• Vandy has now recorded 745 strikeouts this season. The 2019 team set a Vanderbilt record with 765.

• Vanderbilt has now won multiple games in all five College World Series appearances which is tied with Oregon State for the longest active streak by any team.

• The Commodores are now 6-2 in CWS elimination games, tied for the third-best record by any team since making CWS debut in 2011.

• Vandy, down 5-2 Wednesday before winning 6-5, also overcame a three-run deficit to beat Arizona in the College World Series opener to becomed the second team to overcome multiple three-run deficits in the CWS over the past 10 seasons joining Oregon State in 2018.

• The win for Vanderbilt on Wednesday was its third this season when trailing after six innings and all three have come in the NCAA Tournament (Regional final vs Georgia Tech, College World Series opener vs Arizona).

• Bradfield is the third Vanderbilt lead-off hitter to finish with three hits in College World Series game (Dansby Swanson in 2014 vs UC Irvine; Tony Kemp in 2011 vs North Carolina).

• Attendance was announced as 22,804.

Shook the Trees by Vanderbilt Athletics on Exposure