OMAHA, Neb. - John Norwood's home run in the top of the eighth inning gave Vanderbilt the lead, and the Commodores (52-21) beat Virginia, 3-2, on Wednesday night for their first national championship.
Norwood turned on Nick Howard's 97 mph fastball and sent it into the left field bullpen to break a 2-2 tie in the third and deciding game of the College World Series finals.
It was Norwood's third homer of the year and Vanderbilt's first since May 16. It also was only the third home run in 16 CWS games.
The Cavaliers (53-16) loaded the bases with one out in the eighth when Adam Ravenelle hit Kenny Towns. But Mike Papi was forced out at home on a chopper to Ravenelle, and Brandon Downes grounded out.
The College World Series says there is no concern about the drop in attendance this year.
Entering Game 3 of the CWS finals on Wednesday, the average crowd was 21,959 at TD Ameritrade Park. That was down from last year's record of 24,392.
Diesing said last year's attendance was an "anomaly." LSU and Mississippi State were among the eight teams in 2013, and each school brought along strong fan followings. Mississippi State had an estimated 5,000 fans migrate to Omaha just for the finals, Diesing said.
CWS crowds have averaged more than 20,000 every year since 1996. The event has been played in Omaha every year since 1950.
Virginia's Mike Papi wasn't about to apologize for putting his shoulder into Vanderbilt third baseman Tyler Campbell at the end of a rundown between third base and home in the ninth inning Monday. Campbell hit the ground and cut his mouth on the play.
"It was a dead-on-arrival play, so when the ball went back to the pitcher, I was in a rundown," Papi told reporters. "My job was to get the batter to second base, and I was going hard and (Campbell) was in the base line when I was going back to the bag."
Vanderbilt fans chanted "Throw him out" as Papi jogged back to the Virginia dugout. Commodores coach Tim Corbin said it could be argued that it was an overaggressive play on Papi's part, but he deferred to the umpires' judgment. Corbin said he didn't think the incident would carry over to Wednesday's game.
"No way," he said.
IT'S ABOUT OFFENSE: Virginia was batting .354 (28 for 79) in the first two games of the finals, and the Cavaliers' .286 team average in five CWS games is by far the best of the teams that made it to Omaha.
Vanderbilt was batting .177 in the finals and .233 for the CWS. The Commodores' Nos. 3, 4 and 5 batters - Vince Conde, Zander Wiel and John Norwood - went into Game 3 a combined 2 for 21 in the finals.
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