Inserted in the lineup as Vanderbilt’s No. 4 cleanup hitter, junior centerfielder John Norwood hit a game-winning home run as the Commodores beat Virginia 3-2 for its first national title in a men’s sport and just the second in school history. Norwood came into Game 3 with seven hits in the College World Series, including two each in three of the past four games. He responded with three hits Wednesday and scored two of Vanderbilt’s three runs. His 10 hits tied for the CWS high with teammate Dansby Swanson, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
Norwood’s line shot into the Virginia bullpen over the left-field wall was just his third of the season, coming on a 97 mph fastball from Virginia closer Nick Howard. Norwood finished the CWS Finals with five hits, three RBI and three runs scored. He either led or tied the CWS lead in hits (10), runs (5), RBI (6), total bases (14), home runs (1) and stolen bases (4).
Virginia had to change their game plan around after a 26-pitch first inning for starter Josh Sborz, who walked two batters and gave up two hits and a run to fall behind 1-0. Virginia coach Brian O’Connor made the call to bring in his setup guy Artie Lewicki to start the second, despite the first run scoring on a throwing error by catcher Robbie Coman on a double steal. Lewicki saw his scoreless streak snapped at 32.1 innings by Vanderbilt’s unearned run in the sixth; overall he pitched 22 innings in the NCAA tournament and 11.2 in the CWS.
Virginia managed to tie the game up at 2-2 and in the eighth had a rally of their own. With the first two runners on, Virginia chose to lay down a sacrifice bunt to get them to second and third. Two batters later, the bases were loaded but a come-backer to the pitcher got an out at home and the inning ended on a fielder’s choice.