OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Surprise starter Adam Haseley and Josh Sborz combined on the shutout, senior utility man Thomas Woodruff drove in two runs, and the Cavaliers defeated Vanderbilt 3-0 on Tuesday night to force a winner-take-all game in the College World Series.
For the second year in a row, these two teams will go the distance in the best-of-three finals. Vanderbilt (51-20) will be playing for a second straight national title on Wednesday. Virginia (43-24) will be looking for its first.
Haseley, the Cavaliers’ regular center fielder, hadn’t pitched since May 23. The freshman gave coach Brian O’Connor all he could have hoped for, working into the sixth inning for his longest outing and turning over a scoreless game to Sborz (7-2).
Sborz, who picked up his third career win in the CWS, hasn’t allowed an earned run in 27 consecutive innings. He was tested Tuesday, with Vanderbilt getting its leadoff batter on base in the fifth, sixth, seventh and ninth innings.
The ninth was especially tense for Sborz after Bryan Reynolds singled and Will Toffey walked. But Sborz struck out Jeren Kendall, got Karl Ellison to fly out and struck out Nolan Rogers to end the game.
Virginia broke through against Vandy starter Phil Pfeifer (6-5) for three unearned runs in the sixth after he had retired the first two batters.
Pavin Smith singled, Kevin Doherty got on board after his grounder up the middle bounced off the bag away from second baseman Tyler Campbell and Joe McCarthy reached when first baseman Zander Wiel couldn’t handle his hot smash.
Ernie Clement followed with an RBI single into left, and Woodruff drove a ball into center for two more runs.
The Cavaliers have scored the go-ahead run in the sixth inning or later in each of their nine NCAA Tournament wins.
Clement, a freshman, and Woodruff, a senior who came into the game with only 67 at-bats in his career, combined to go 6 for 10 as the Nos. 8 and 9 batters in the order.
The other unlikely hero was Haseley, who before Tuesday had pitched only 23 2/3 innings in 10 appearances, four of them starts.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from Windermere, Florida, gave up four singles, walked three and struck out one during his 71-pitch outing. Haseley had at least one batter reach against him in all but one of his innings.
Vanderbilt threatened in the sixth after Rhett Wiseman singled leading off to bring on Sborz. Dansby Swanson reached on a slow roller to short, but Sborz got out of the inning when Wiel flew out and Reynolds hit into a double play.
Vanderbilt is trying to become the seventh school to win back-to-back national titles and the third to do it in the last 10 years. Virginia, with a win Wednesday, would be the first Atlantic Coast Conference team to win the baseball national championship since Wake Forest in 1955.