The 2011 College World Series was supposed to be dominated by low scoring games marked by pitching gems and solid defense. Instead, it was timely hitting and subpar pitching performances in Vanderbilt’s 7-3 win over North Carolina that marked the opening of TD Ameritrade Park in a match-up that most predicted to be as close as any in the opening rounds of action.
Saturday opened up Bracket Play for final eight teams vying for the CWS title, and while it’s Vanderbilt’s first time, they’re a loaded team on all fronts. Specifically, recent Athletics first round draft choice Sonny Gray was expected to lead the Commodores into battle, but he was chased after four forgettable innings allowing 13 baserunners and three earned runs. North Carolina’s ace, Patrick Johnson, wasn’t much better, going six innings and allowing five runs to take the loss — only his second on the season.
Some of the hitters, however, performed as advertised. North Carolina’s super freshman Colin Moran drove in two runs and went 3-4. Vandy centerfielder Connor Harrell hit the first homerun of the CWS. For the most part, it was a matter of timely hitting and poor pitching in the form of walks and wild pitches that drove the offense.
If anything, I’d expect this game to be the anomaly as all of these pitchers will undoubtedly redeem themselves next time around. They’ve been too good all season to not do so. Then again, it’s clutch time where the pressure is up and anything can happen.