Tyler Beede was hoping his last start as a Vanderbilt Commodore would be a national championship-winning performance. Virginia had other ideas.
After looking baffled by Beede early in Tuesday night's College World Series finals matchup, the Cavaliers caught up to him the third time through the order. Virginia surged into the lead with a big sixth-inning rally and went on to win, 7-2, forcing an all-or-nothing Game 3.
Beede, a junior, was taken No. 14 overall in the MLB Draft earlier this month by the San Francisco Giants. He turned down first-round money once before when he was taken by the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school, and isn't likely to spurn the pros again. Tuesday night was probably his last time on the mound for the Commodores.
For the first few innings, it looked like a storybook ending: the kid that turned down the big money to live his college dream gets the last laugh when he walks off the field with a national championship trophy. But after cruising through the early innings, the road became rocky.
The biggest bump was the sixth inning, when Virginia scored three runs to charge out to a 4-2 lead. Mike Papi and Joe McCarthy led off with back-to-back singles to put men on the corners, then a fielder's choice pushed Papi across the plate to tie the game. That process basically repeated itself as a steal and a single put men back on first and third, and John La Prise recorded an RBI groundout to push Virginia in front. The finishing touch came from Brandon Downes, who laced a triple off the glove of a diving John Norwood in right center to make it 4-2.
Three singles in the top of the seventh fueled another Virginia rally. The big hit came off the bat of Kenny Towns, who sent a two-out, bases-loaded liner into left field to plate two. With the score 6-2, Beede was pulled, walking off a collegiate field for the final time.
The first two times through the order, Virginia went just 3-for-15 with one run against Beede. But then they were able to isolate his changeup and begin sitting on pitches. From that point until Beede was pulled, the Cavs went 7-for-14 and scored five runs.
While Beede was making his collegiate swan song, Cavaliers starter Brandon Waddell was quietly spinning a complete game masterpiece. He allowed just one earned run off five hits.
In all honesty, Virginia should have been lifting the national championship trophy on Tuesday. Despite thoroughly outplaying Vanderbilt in Game 1, a disastrous third inning handed the Commodores nine runs and eventually a 9-8 win.
The two clubs will meet in a winner-takes-all showdown on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET.