College World Series: Freshman ace Kumar Rocker pitches Vanderbilt to decisive Game 3 vs. Michigan

Vanderbilt came into Game 2 of the College World Series on Tuesday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha down 0-1 to Michigan in the best-of-three final and on the brink of elimination. Freshman ace Kumar Rocker, however, was up to the task and helped the Commodores win by a score of 4-1 and thus force a decisive Game 3 on Wednesday night to determine the national championship for 2019. 

Rocker wasn't as dominant as he was when he struck out 19 (!) and twirled a no-hitter against Duke in the Nashville Super Regional, but he looked on a similar level in the early going on Tuesday: 

In the end, Rocker wound up working 6 1/3 innings of one-run, three-hit ball while striking out 11 and walking two thanks to his outstanding fastball-breaking ball combo. He also became just the ninth pitcher in finals history to strike out 10 or more batters in a game. Rocker escaped jams in the fourth -- Michigan stole three bases in the inning but failed to score a run -- and sixth before giving way to relief ace Tyler Brown in the seventh. Despite allowing an inherited runner to score, Brown closed it out with 2 2/3 strong frames

On offense, Vandy plated a pair of runs in the fifth on wild pitches, and then catcher Philip Clarke notched the first and only home run of the game: 

One thing to monitor for Michigan heading into Game 3 is the status of DH and leadoff hitter Jordan Nwogu, who appeared to injure his leg while trying to hustle out a ground ball in the third. He was removed from the game and while exiting the field was unable to put weight on his right leg. Nwogu batted a productive .339/.459/.593 with 14 stolen bases and 23 extra-base hits for the Wolverines this season. Needless to say, he'd be a critical loss if he's unable to play in Game 3. 

The decisive Game 3 can be seen on ESPN Wednesday beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The Wolverines will by trying to win their first national title since 1962, while the Commodores will be looking for their first championship since 2014.

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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