The 2019 College World Series is down to its final two teams. Michigan and Vanderbilt begin the best-of-three championship series in Game 1 at 7 p.m. ET on Monday, June 24, from TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. Here’s how you can watch, the schedule, what you need to know, and a prediction for the CWS finals.
How to watch the 2019 College World Series finals
Vanderbilt and Michigan will play (possibly) three games in three days from Omaha. Since it is a best-of-three series, Wednesday night’s Game 3 is if necessary. All three games are scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN.
Here’s how Vanderbilt and Michigan got to the 2019 CWS finals
Both the Commodores and Wolverines enter the championship series perfect in Omaha. That means both teams have a chance to become the 26th college baseball national champion to run the table and go undefeated in College World Series play.
Michigan, once a power in the 1950s to 1970s, is making its first CWS finals appearance since winning it all in 1962. The Wolverines stunned the college baseball world by taking down No. 1 national seed UCLA in Los Angeles to reach Omaha and now have their hands full with the No. 2 national seed.
Vanderbilt was pegged by some as the team to beat at TD Ameritrade Park, and have delivered. One of the nation’s top offenses has shown it doesn’t need to live and die by the long ball with the emergence of newfound ace Kumar Rocker and a come-from-behind victory against Louisville to reach the program’s third CWS finals since 2014. Vandy is the first program to play in three CWS finals since the move to TD Ameritrade Park in 2011.
Preview, prediction for the CWS finals
A college baseball power from yesteryear vs. the sport’s newest dynasty. Neither team has had to play an elimination game yet, both perfect in their run to the CWS finals. Let’s take a look at what you need to know heading into Game 1.
Michigan: The Wolverines’ offense is coming off a big 15-3 victory over Texas Tech, putting up numbers that compared to some of the best performances in TD Ameritrade Park history. The 15 runs are tied for the most scored in this ballpark with Florida, who dropped 15 in 2015. Michigan scored a run in each of the first three innings of Friday’s win, just the second time in TDAPO history of the feat.
Jimmy Kerr led the way, becoming the first Michigan Wolverine to hit two home runs in a College World Series game. Jesse Franklin has also been scorching hot with five hits, four runs scored and five RBI in the CWS, so far. Getting through those first four hitters has been a challenge thus far in Omaha, as Michigan has opened up a lead in the first inning in all three of its ball games.
The pitching has been on fire. At least the starting pitching has. Michigan has only needed to use three pitchers thus far. Karl Kauffmann picked up his second CWS win on Friday and now has allowed just eight runs all NCAA tournament. Normal starter Jeff Criswell has now pitched five innings of shutout relief in Omaha, striking out ten over that span. But Tommy Henry, who is on plenty of rest, should get the Game 1 start. Henry was utterly dominant in his last outing, tossing a three-hit, complete game shutout. He struck out 10 batters and walked none, becoming the Michigan single-season leader in strikeouts with 127 so far.
Vanderbilt: Maybe the question is who not to watch? JJ Bleday has had quite the curious postseason. He extended his on-base streak to an incredible 48 games, but the Division I leader in home runs hasn’t launched one in 10 games. That’s okay, because Austin Martin and Stephen Scott have helped with the fireworks, becoming the first pair of teammates with two home runs in two different CWS games since 2009.
Martin, who leads DI with a Vanderbilt single-season record 86 runs scored, and Bleday get the motor running, and the rest of the order does well capitalizing on opportunities. That’s what Ethan Paul did on Friday, tying the game in dramatic fashion with an RBI double, the 63rd of his career, breaking the Vanderbilt record.
Though not as lightly used as Michigan’s staff, the Vandy Boys pitching has been equally impressive. The rise of Kumar Rocker in this tournament has only climbed higher with another stunning performance in Vanderbilt’s second game. He had a streak of 22-straight swinging strikeouts beginning with his 19-strikeout super regional no-hitter and has 25 total over his last two starts. Mason Hickman was strong over six on Friday, and Tyler Brown has saved all three games in Omaha, becoming the program’s single-season leader with 17. But the veteran Drake Fellows should draw the Game 1 start, after becoming the first pitcher in DI in 2019 to 13 wins with a victory in Vanderbilt’s first win, becoming the program’s seventh pitcher to reach 300 strikeouts as well. It is his responsibility to set the tone early against this opportunistic Michigan offense.
Michigan vs. Vanderbilt prediction
Fellows vs. Henry is the Game 1 matchup college baseball fans could only hope for. The thought that a Rocker vs. Kauffmann showdown in Game 2 could follow that up makes this a CWS finals for which we should be very excited.
But that’s one of the big questions. How does the NCBWA coach of the year Erik Bakich manage this staff? He hasn’t had to throw three starters yet. Is Jeff Criswell heading back to the rotation since proving to be such a reliable weapon in the NCAA tournament? That could be an edge in Vanderbilt’s favor.
But how about that Game 1 dream matchup? Henry has struck out 16 batters while walking none, allowing just two runs over his last two starts. He and his .221 batting average against will have to figure out a Vanderbilt offense that is sixth in DI with a .314 batting average and has set its program record with 97 home runs this season.
Fellows has had quite the journey this postseason. He tossed a complete game against Ohio State to open regional play before getting lit up by Duke in the super regional tournament. He redeemed himself with a strong start in the College World Series and now has to contend with an underrated Michigan lineup thriving at the right time.
Michigan has trailed for about 10 minutes this entire College World Series, falling behind 3-2 in the top of the second on Friday before taking the lead for good in the bottom half of the same inning. The Vandy Boys? This offense that has steamrolled teams for the bulk of the season — including early in the NCAA tournament — showed it knows how to come back, and late in games as well. It took all nine innings for Vanderbilt to finally secure its third trip to the CWS finals. That moxie, that experience in winning games in such dramatically different styles, may give them another slight edge.
We’re not going to lie. At the beginning of the College World Series, it looked like the Commodores were going to sweep their way to the program’s second national title. We’re now not so sure Michigan will go so quietly, easily the most impressive team in the 2019 NCAA baseball tournament. No one gave the Wolverines much of a chance to take down the No. 1 national seed in UCLA, and now they have to deal with No. 2.
Vanderbilt’s pitching, whether it’s Fellows, Rocker, or Hickman, has to come out strong and figure out a way to slow the Michigan offense down right out of the gates. If Kauffmann and Henry get comfortable behind even a small lead, the Vandy Boys could be in some real trouble. But if the ‘Dores come out and set the tone, the 2019 CWS title should be theirs.
Prediction: Vanderbilt wins the College World Series in three games.
History of College World Series champions
Vanderbilt is certainly the new powerhouse of college baseball, a consistent threat and Omaha regular since head coach Tim Corbin took over. The Commodores still have a long way to go to catch Southern California, college baseball’s winningest College World Series team with 12 titles. Here’s a complete list of every winner in Omaha.
|2018||Oregon State (55-12-1)||Pat Casey||5-0||Arkansas||Omaha, Neb.|
|2017||Florida (52-19)||Kevin O’Sullivan||6-1||LSU||Omaha, Neb.|
|2016||Coastal Carolina (55-18)||Gary Gilmore||4-3||Arizona||Omaha, Neb.|
|2015||Virginia (44-24)||Brian O’Connor||4-2||Vanderbilt||Omaha, Neb.|
|2014||Vanderbilt (51-21)||Tim Corbin||3-2||Virginia||Omaha, Neb.|
|2013||* UCLA (49-17)||John Savage||8-0||Mississippi State||Omaha, Neb.|
|2012||* Arizona (48-17)||Andy Lopez||4-1||South Carolina||Omaha, Neb.|
|2011||* South Carolina (55-14)||Ray Tanner||5-2||Florida||Omaha, Neb.|
|2010||South Carolina (54-16)||Ray Tanner||2-1 (11 inn.)||UCLA||Omaha, Neb.|
|2009||LSU (56-17)||Paul Mainieri||11-4||Texas||Omaha, Neb.|
|2008||Fresno State (47-31)||Mike Batesole||6-1||Georgia||Omaha, Neb.|
|2007||* Oregon State (49-18)||Pat Casey||9-3||North Carolina||Omaha, Neb.|
|2006||Oregon State (50-16)||Pat Casey||3-2||North Carolina||Omaha, Neb.|
|2005||* Texas (56-16)||Augie Garrido||6-2||Florida||Omaha, Neb.|
|2004||Cal St. Fullerton (47-22)||George Horton||3-2||Texas||Omaha, Neb.|
|2003||Rice (58-12)||Wayne Graham||14-2||Stanford||Omaha, Neb.|
|2002||* Texas (57-15)||Augie Garrido||12-6||South Carolina||Omaha, Neb.|
|2001||* Miami (Fla.) (53-12)||Jim Morris||12-1||Stanford||Omaha, Neb.|
|2000||* LSU (52-17)||Skip Bertman||6-5||Stanford||Omaha, Neb.|
|1999||* Miami (Fla.) (50-13)||Jim Morris||6-5||Florida State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1998||Southern California (49-17)||Mike Gillespie||21-14||Arizona State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1997||* LSU (57-13)||Skip Bertman||13-6||Alabama||Omaha, Neb.|
|1996||* LSU (52-15)||Skip Bertman||9-8||Miami (Fla.)||Omaha, Neb.|
|1995||* Cal St. Fullerton (57-9)||Augie Garrido||11-5||Southern California||Omaha, Neb.|
|1994||* Oklahoma (50-17)||Larry Cochell||13-5||Georgia Tech||Omaha, Neb.|
|1993||LSU (53-17-1)||Skip Bertman||8-0||Wichita State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1992||* Pepperdine (48-11-1)||Andy Lopez||3-2||Cal St. Fullerton||Omaha, Neb.|
|1991||* LSU (55-18)||Skip Bertman||6-3||Wichita State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1990||Georgia (52-19)||Steve Webber||2-1||Oklahoma State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1989||Wichita State (68-16)||Gene Stephenson||5-3||Texas||Omaha, Neb.|
|1988||Stanford (46-23)||Mark Marquess||9-4||Arizona State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1987||Stanford (53-17)||Mark Marquess||9-5||Oklahoma State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1986||Arizona (49-19)||Jerry Kindall||10-2||Florida State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1985||Miami (Fla.) (64-16)||Ron Fraser||10-6||Texas||Omaha, Neb.|
|1984||Cal St. Fullerton (66-20)||Augie Garrido||3-1||Texas||Omaha, Neb.|
|1983||* Texas (66-14)||Cliff Gustafson||4-3||Alabama||Omaha, Neb.|
|1982||* Miami (Fla.) (55-17-1)||Ron Fraser||9-3||Wichita State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1981||Arizona State (55-13)||Jim Brock||7-4||Oklahoma State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1980||Arizona (45-21-1)||Jerry Kindall||5-3||Hawaii||Omaha, Neb.|
|1979||Cal St. Fullerton (60-14-1)||Augie Garrido||2-1||Arkansas||Omaha, Neb.|
|1978||* Southern California (54-9)||Rod Dedeaux||10-3||Arizona State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1977||Arizona State (57-12)||Jim Brock||2-1||South Carolina||Omaha, Neb.|
|1976||Arizona (56-17)||Jerry Kindall||7-1||Eastern Michigan||Omaha, Neb.|
|1975||Texas (59-6)||Cliff Gustafson||5-1||South Carolina||Omaha, Neb.|
|1974||Southern California (50-20)||Rod Dedeaux||7-3||Miami (Fla.)||Omaha, Neb.|
|1973||* Southern California (51-11)||Rod Dedeaux||4-3||Arizona State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1972||Southern California (47-13-1)||Rod Dedeaux||1-0||Arizona State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1971||Southern California (46-11)||Rod Dedeaux||5-2||Southern Illinois||Omaha, Neb.|
|1970||Southern California (45-13)||Rod Dedeaux||2-1 (15 inn.)||Florida State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1969||Arizona State (56-11)||Bobby Winkles||10-1||Tulsa||Omaha, Neb.|
|1968||* Southern California (43-12-1)||Rod Dedeaux||4-3||Southern Illinois||Omaha, Neb.|
|1967||Arizona State (53-12)||Bobby Winkles||11-0||Houston||Omaha, Neb.|
|1966||Ohio State (27-6-1)||Marty Karow||8-2||Oklahoma State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1965||Arizona State (54-8)||Bobby Winkles||2-0||Ohio State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1964||Minnesota (31-12)||Dick Siebert||5-1||Missouri||Omaha, Neb.|
|1963||Southern California (35-10)||Rod Dedeaux||5-2||Arizona||Omaha, Neb.|
|1962||Michigan (34-15)||Don Lund||5-4 (15 inn.)||Santa Clara||Omaha, Neb.|
|1961||* Southern California (36-7)||Rod Dedeaux||1-0||Oklahoma State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1960||Minnesota (34-7-1)||Dick Siebert||2-1 (10 inn.)||Southern California||Omaha, Neb.|
|1959||Oklahoma State (27-5)||Toby Greene||5-0||Arizona||Omaha, Neb.|
|1958||Southern California (29-3)||Rod Dedeaux||8-7 (12 inn.)||Missouri||Omaha, Neb.|
|1957||* California (35-10)||George Wolfman||1-0||Penn State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1956||Minnesota (37-9)||Dick Siebert||12-1||Arizona||Omaha, Neb.|
|1955||Wake Forest (29-7)||Taylor Sanford||7-6||Western Michigan||Omaha, Neb.|
|1954||Missouri (22-4)||John “Hi” Simmons||4-1||Rollins||Omaha, Neb.|
|1953||Michigan (21-9)||Ray Fisher||7-5||Texas||Omaha, Neb.|
|1952||Holy Cross (21-3)||Jack Barry||8-4||Missouri||Omaha, Neb.|
|1951||* Oklahoma (19-9)||Jack Baer||3-2||Tennessee||Omaha, Neb.|
|1950||Texas (27-6)||Bibb Falk||3-0||Washington State||Omaha, Neb.|
|1949||* Texas (23-7)||Bibb Falk||10-3||Wake Forest||Wichita, Kan.|
|1948||Southern California (26-4)||Sam Barry||9-2||Yale||Kalamazoo, Mich.|
|1947||* California (31-10)||Clint Evans||8-7||Yale||Kalamazoo, Mich.|
*Indicates undefeated teams in College World Series play.