Freshman Stephen Nogosek put Oregon in a position to win in just his second career start, but the Ducks couldn't hold off No. 20 Vanderbilt in the title game of the Nashville Regional on Sunday.
Nogosek left the game after seven inning, his longest career outing, with a 2-1 lead after allowing just one run on four hits with seven strikeouts. Vandy scored single runs in the eighth and the ninth to keep Nogosek from picking up the win.
The top-seeded Commodores advanced to the Super Regionals when freshman Ro Coleman slapped a bases-loaded, walk-off single to left field to give Vanderbilt a 3-2 comeback victory over No. 2-seeded Oregon in the championship game of the Nashville Regional at Hawkins Field.
Vanderbilt (44-18) collected just six hits in the game, but the dominating pitching of Walker Buehler — who tossed a complete game — coupled with some opportunistic moments on offense set up the Commodores for their first walk-off win of the season.
Vanderbilt, which went 3-0 at this weekend's Regional, will next face the winner of Monday night's game between Stanford and Indiana. If Indiana wins, Vanderbilt will travel to Bloomington for Super Regionals. If Stanford wins, the Commodores will host the Cardinal in the next round.
With the Oregon infield drawn in, Coleman laced a 3-1 pitch off closer Jake Reed into left field to bring home Zander Wiel from third. The Commodores poured out of the dugout and mobbed the 5-foot-5 Coleman while the black and gold faithful celebrated in the stands.
Vanderbilt will be making an appearance in the Super Regionals for the third time in the past four seasons, and for the fifth time in the program's history. All of them have happened under head coach Tim Corbin, who arrived in 2003.
The Commodores have traditionally used dominating pitching to propel their postseason success, and this year has been no exception.
Buehler (11-2) held Oregon to two runs on six hits, all singles, and finished with eight strikeouts and one walk during his gem on Sunday. He threw 127 pitches, 81 for strikes, while posting his team-leading second complete game of the season.
It was the latest of three straight outstanding outings by the Commodore starters. Tyler Beede worked eight shutout innings and struck out a career-high 14 batters in Friday's 11-0 win over Xavier, and Carson Fulmer held Oregon to two runs on three hits in eight innings in Saturday's 7-2 victory.
Together, Beede, Fulmer and Buehler combined to go 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 25 innings. Beede was named the Regional's MVP and Buehler was named to the All-Tournament team.
The Vanderbilt offense gave Beede and Fulmer plenty of support, and then gave Buehler just enough. And they did it in creative style, using a combination of walks, bunts and speed to generate their late-inning comeback and flip a 2-1 deficit into the 3-2 win.
Vanderbilt scored the tying run in the eighth and the go-ahead run in the ninth with the ball leaving the infield only one time — that coming on Coleman's clutch knock.
Vanderbilt tied the game in the eighth when Bryan Reynolds beat out a potential double-play ball, and then won it in the ninth by loading the bases on a walk, a hit-by-pitch and a bunt single to set up Coleman's heroics.
Dansby Swanson finished 2-for-4, including a run-scoring double in the second inning that tied the game at 1-1. Rhett Wiseman also finished with two hits for the Commodores, and Bryan Reynolds had an RBI. Reynolds, Swanson and Vince Conde were all named to the All-Tournament team
The fact that Vanderbilt was down 2-1 at the end of the seventh inning wasn't a good omen for the Commodores, who were just 1-14 this season when trailing after seven. But they found a way to rally, including manufacturing the tying run in the eighth inning without a base hit.
Pinch-hitter Karl Ellison opened the inning by being hit by a pitch, and was replaced by pinch-runner Will Cooper, who advanced to second on Jason Delay's sacrifice bunt. Swanson followed with ground ball to Oregon shortstop Kevin Minjares, who attempted to throw out Cooper at third. The throw was off target, however, and Cooper snuck in under the tag.
With runners at the corners and one out, Reynolds hit a ground ball to second. Oregon got the force out at second base, but Reynolds beat the throw to first with a head-first slide and Cooper scored from third to tie the game at 2-2.
After Buehler held Oregon scoreless in the top of the ninth, Vanderbilt's Zander Wiel drew a leadoff walk against Garrett Cleavinger (3-2) in the bottom of the inning and moved to second on a wild pitch. Oregon reliever Jake Reed then entered the game, and hit Xavier Turner with a pitch. Rhett Wiseman followed with a bunt single that loaded the bases with no outs for Coleman.
It was only the second at-bat of the tournament for Coleman, but his base hit will surely be among the most lasting memories of the weekend.
Release from UO Media Services