OMAHA, Neb. — For a guy who doesn’t hit many home runs, John Norwood’s timing was impeccable.
Norwood’s tiebreaking homer in the top of the eighth inning carried Vanderbilt to a 3-2 win over Virginia on Wednesday night for the Commodores’ first national championship.
Norwood turned on Nick Howard’s 97 mph fastball and sent it into the left-field bullpen. Then Hayden Stone and Adam Ravenelle closed out the third and deciding game of the College World Series finals.
It was Norwood’s third homer of the year, his first since April 19, and Vanderbilt’s first since May 16. It also was only the third home run in 16 CWS games and the 22nd in 72 games by the Commodores (51-21).
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“I thought it was absolutely gone as soon as I hit it,” Norwood said. “I was only thinking about hitting the ball hard. We were totally confident going back to regionals and super regionals and really felt we could get this done.”
The Cavaliers (53-16) loaded the bases with one out in the eighth when Ravenelle hit Kenny Towns. But Mike Papi was forced out at home on a chopper to Ravenelle, and Brandon Downes grounded out.
The title, secured when Ravenelle struck out Daniel Pinero, is Vanderbilt’s first in a men’s sport. The school’s only other title came in women’s bowling in 2007.
Vandy second baseman Dansby Swanson was chosen the CWS Most Outstanding Player. Swanson batted .323, scored five runs, drove in two and stole three bases. He played flawlessly in the field.
After the last out, Vanderbilt players grabbed the championship trophy and hoisted coach Tim Corbin on their shoulders.
“Every coach, you immerse yourself in the kids and they become more than baseball players; they become your sons,” Corbin said. “This is a nice feeling. It’s good to watch them celebrate achievements.”