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College World Series: Virginia lives to see another day

In a must win game, unsung heroes come up big for the Hoos as they defeat the Vanderbilt Commodores 3-0 to force a deciding Game 3.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Nathan Kirby, Connor Jones, Brandon Waddell. Matt Thaiss, Kenny Towns, Joe McCarthy.  Nope. This night belonged to Adam Haseley, Ernie Clement, and Thomas Woodruff.  In a season where surprises have met the Hoos at every turn, who would have thought that Adam Haseley would provide five innings of shutout ball and Ernie Clement and Thomas Woodruff would go a combined 5-6m while delivering the games biggest hits?  First, Clement smacked a two out single to put the Hoos ahead 1-0, then Woodruff's two RBI single  put the game out of reach and sent the College World Series to winner take all game three.

Haseley gave Virginia everything they could ask for and more, going 5.0 scoreless innings, giving up four hits and three walks before handing the ball to Josh Sborz who was filthy. Sborz did what he does, pitching 4 innings of scoreless relief, giving up three hits and striking out three Commodores. Most importantly, he shut the door quickly on any attempt Vanderbilt made to get back into the game.

While he was UVA's star in the field on Monday night, Ernie Clement hadn't done much at the plate since he came up with the game-winning hit to send the Hoos to Omaha. But tonight he had three hits, none bigger than his two-out single to left in the sixth inning that proved to be the deciding run.

Up until last night, Woodruff saw the majority of his action at TD Ameritrade Park as a pinch runner and as this year's recipient of the NCAA's Elite 89 award in Division I baseball for his outstanding work in the classroom, earning a 3.725 GPA while majoring in Mechanical Engineering. Like Clement though, he went 3-4 with two RBIs, and provided the dagger when he followed Clement's single with a single of his own to plate two Hoos and give Virginia a 3-0 lead.

After a pitchers duel saw Haseley, Sborz, and Vanderbilt starter Philip Pfeifer trade scoreless innings through five, Virginia struck first in the bottom of the sixth.  Pfeifer struck out Thaiss and retired Towns on a ground out to second, but Pavin Smith singled to left to get things rolling for the Hoos. With a bit of good fortune that it takes to win a championship, the inning continued when Kevin Doherty's ground ball up the middle hit second base and bounced into center field for a two-out single. Next, McCarthy ripped a ball to first that "ate up" Vanderbilt's Zander Wiel to load the bases. That set up Super Regionals hero Ernie Clement for an RBI single to left to put the Hoos up 1-0. Not to be outdone, Woodruff then knocked his two RBI single to center, giving the Hoos all the insurance they would need.

The two teams will square off tomorrow night at 8 P.M. in a Game 3 that will determine the national champion. Big-game Brandon Waddell will get the start for Hoos against Walker Buehler for the Commodores.