If you give Jack Leiter a little run support, there’s a good chance he’ll be able to deliver a win.
Vanderbilt did that and then some. After Leiter gave up a home run to Bulldog third baseman Kamren James in the top of the first inning, the Commodores responded with a seven-run bottom half, capped off by a three-run homer from their No. 9 hitter, third baseman Jayson Gonzalez, that spotted Leiter to a 7-1 lead.
It wasn’t his most dominant outing, as he still walked three batters and gave up two runs — but the top MLB draft prospect did more than enough to hold down the Bulldogs, giving up just three hits and striking out eight through six innings. He helped deliver an 8-2 win in Game 1 against Mississippi State to put Vanderbilt one win away from winning its second straight College World Series. Nick Maldonado picked up the three-inning save with four strikeouts and two hits allowed.
That big first inning wasn’t even a product of Vanderbilt lighting up the pitching staff. Two walks and a hit by pitch loaded the bases for second baseman Parker Noland, who was hit by a pitch to bring in the game’s first run. Catcher CJ Rodriguez singled to drive in two more and right fielder Isaiah Thomas doubled to score another run and chase Mississippi State starter Christian MacLeod.
Gonzalez homered to blow the door open.
Mississippi State’s bullpen held the Commodores in check the rest of the way, holding them to just two hits the rest of the game, though it was a single by shortstop Carter Young to score Vanderbilt’s eighth run of the game in the bottom of the seventh. Cade Smith, Brandon Smith, KC Hunt and Jackson Fristoe combined to pitch seven innings and allow two hits and two walks with six strikeouts.
Sporting News provided live updates and highlights from the first game of the College World Series.
College World Series finals updates, highlights from Game 1
All times Eastern
10:57 p.m.: Clark is caught looking to end the game. Vanderbilt is one win away from winning the 2021 College World Series.
10:55 p.m.: Skinner strikes out looking. Two away.
10:52 p.m.: Dubrule keeps the line moving for Mississippi State. He singles to left field to put runners on first and second. Brayland Skinner, who scored the winning run against Texas, is batting with two away in the top of the ninth.
10:51 p.m.: Tanner lifts a single into center field to give the Bulldogs a baserunner with one away.
10:49 p.m.: Hancock pops out to second. One away.
10:46 p.m. End of Eighth: Fristoe strikes out Gonzalez to strand a pair on the corners. Mississippi State heads to the top of the ninth trailing 8-2.
10:43 p.m.: Walk to Rodriguez and a bunt single by Vaz puts runners on first and second with only one out for Vanderbilt.
10:41 p.m.: Jackson Fristoe is the new pitcher for the Bulldogs.
10:39 p.m. End Top Eighth: Another 1-2-3 inning from Maldonado out of the bullpen. The Bulldogs will have only three outs remaining. Vanderbilt now coming up to bat in the bottom half of the frame with a chance to add to their six-run lead.
10:33 p.m. End of Seventh: Pinch hitter Spencer Jones grounds into a force out as Hunt is able to escape the inning with just one run allowed. But the lead is now up to 8-2 for Vanderbilt with two more chances to bat for Mississippi State.
10:29 p.m. Vanderbilt scoring play: The Commodores are back on the board. Young bloops in a base hit to center and Gonzalez reads off the bat all the way that it’s dropping. Vanderbilt extends lead to 8-2.
10:26 p.m.: The speedy Bradfield lays down a bunt and tries to beat the throw to first, but is just out. Gonzalez advances to second with one away and Carter Young now at the plate.
10:25 p.m.: Leadoff walk to Gonzalez on four pitches. That’s Vanerbilt’s first baserunner since the second inning. Top of the order now coming to bat with Bradfield.
10:22 p.m. End Top Seventh: Maldonado fans the pinch hitter Josh Hatcher to set the Bulldogs down in order. Commodores still searching for their first hit since the first inning.
10:20 p.m.: Maldonado showing no issues so far. Strikeout on three pitches and a flyout to right field for the first two outs of the seventh.
10:14 p.m. End of Sixth: Hunt pitches a 1-2-3 inning for the Bulldogs. Nick Maldonado will come in for the Commodores. Last time he pitched against Vanderbilt, he went 3.1 scoreless to pick up a save in a 7-4 Commodore win on April 25.
10:13 p.m.: KC Hunt is now on the hill for Mississippi State. Fifth pitcher of the day for the Bulldogs.
10:09 p.m. End Top Sixth: Dubrule bounces into a forceout. That very well could be Leiter’s final time walking off the mound in a Vanderbilt uniform before the draft. He’s through six with two earned runs, eight strikeouts, three walks and three hits.
10:07 p.m.: After a strikeout, Tanner walks to put runners on first and second. Leiter is up to 104 pitchers and now faces Dubrule. Vanderbilt coaching staff is keeping him on the mound.
9:59 p.m.: Incredible sliding catch by Thomas in foul territory in right. Allen tags up and moves to second on the play.
9:57 p.m.: The sixth inning begins with Allen getting hit by a pitch. Third straight inning Mississippi State has led off with a base runner.
9:54 p.m.: End of Fifth: Smith sets the Commodores down in order for another 1-2-3 inning. The Mississippi State bullpen has shut down the Vanderbilt bats since that first inning.
9:50 p.m. End Top Fifth: Lineout to first base ends the inning. Leiter’s pitch count is now up to 88. Bulldogs making him work, but still trailing 7-2 with only four innings left to play is not an enviable position to be in.
9:48 p.m.: Twin killing for Leiter as he gets Forsythe to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play. Two away in the fifth.
9:44 p.m.: Clark walks to lead off the fifth inning.
9:39 p.m. End of Fourth: Smith gets Young on a sharp breaking ball down and away to post a 1-2-3 inning. The Commodores have just one baserunner — a walk in the second inning — since the seven-run first inning.
9:37 p.m.: Bradfield grounds out to the right side. Two down in the fourth.
9:36 p.m.: Smith starts his outing out of the bullpen with a strikeout of Gonzalez in the bottom of the fourth.
9:35 p.m.: Brandon Smith on the mound now for the Bulldogs.
9:32 p.m. End Top Fourth: Cumbest pops out to shallow center field. Leiter is able to escape without allowing any more damage in the frame, but his pitch count is up to 68 through four innings.
9:31 p.m.: Dubrule takes a walk to put runners on first and second with two out in the top of the fourth. Brad Cumbest up to bat.
9:26 p.m. Mississippi State scoring play: Logan Tanner singles down the left field line to drive in Allen. Bulldogs add another run to the box score. Leiter is now up to 56 pitches in the fourth inning with two out. Vanderbilt leads 7-2.
9:25 p.m.: Hancock flies out to left. Two out in the top half of the fourth.
9:24 p.m.: James fans on a slider breaking away for the first out of the inning.
9:22 p.m.: Tanner Allen leads off the top of the fourth with a double to the right-center field gap. James, who homered in the first to give the Bulldogs the lead, is now up to the plate.
9:19 p.m. End of Third: Thomas flies out to center field to end the inning. Smith keeps the Commodores in check for another frame. Vanderbilt sticking to a 7-1 lead.
9:18 p.m.: Vaz pops out to shortstop. Two away in the bottom of the third.
9:17 p.m.: Rodriguez flies out to center field for the first out of the inning.
9:13 p.m. End Top Third: Jordan strikes out swinging at a pitch in the dirt. Six strikeouts for Leiter, who is in command on the mound.
9:12 p.m.: Lane Forsythe is also headed back to the dugout after looking at strike three.
9:10 p.m.: Kellum Clark goes down looking. Leiter is up to four strikeouts in the game.
9:06 p.m. End of Second: Noland strikes out to end the inning. Hitless frame by Smith keeps the deficit at 7-1.
9:04 p.m.: Kolwyck walks to put a runner on base with two away. Third walk of the game issued by Bulldog pitching.
9:03 p.m.: Keegan strikes out swinging. Two out in the frame.
9:01 p.m.: Carter Young grounds out to start the bottom of the second.
9:00 p.m.: Cade Smith now on the mound for the Bulldogs.
8:57 p.m. End Top Second: Nasty breaking ball sets down Scotty Dubrule on strikes. Grounder to first base ends the inning and Vanderbilt is back into the batter’s box.
8:55 p.m.: Leiter starts off the second inning with a strikeout of Logan Tanner.
8:51 p.m.: End of First. Bradfield strikes out to end the inning, mercifully, for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs trail by six.
8:49 p.m. Vanderbilt scoring play: This is not good for the Bulldogs. Jayson Gonzalez, Vanderbilt’s No. 9 hitter, launches a three-run homer to left. Commodores flip the lineup over in the first, and still have Leiter on the mound. Vanderbilt extends lead to 7-1.
8:46 p.m.: Chase Patrick now on the mound for Mississippi State. He has a 1.98 ERA in 13.2 innings of work this season.
8:43 p.m. Vanderbilt scoring play: Thomas drops in a double to left to score Noland and puts runners on second and third for Jayson Gonzalez. This will be the end of the day for MacLeod, who for the second straight start, does not make it through two innings. This time, he can’t escape the first. Vanderbilt extends lead to 4-1.
8:40 p.m.: Vaz pops out and the runners stay put. Right fielder Isaiah Thomas now up for the Commodores with two outs.
8:38 p.m. Vanderbilt scoring play: CJ Rodriguez delivers with a two-run single to left field. Vanderbilt quickly in the lead. Runners now on first and second for Javier Vaz. Vanderbilt takes a 3-1 lead.
8:33 p.m. Vanderbilt scoring play: Noland hit in the shoulder with a pitch brings in a run to tie the game at 1. Vanderbilt ties the game 1-1.
8:31 p.m.: Kolwyck is hit by a pitch to load the bases. Sophomore second baseman Parker Noland now with a big chance to do damage for the Commodores with only one away.
8:30 p.m.: Bradfield swipes third base easily. Runners now on the corners.
8:30 p.m.: Dominic Keegan takes a walk. Runners on first and second with only one out for Tate Kolwyck.
8:26 p.m.: That speed pays off for Vanderbilt. Bradfield starts for second and is safe on a groundout to third base that could have resulted in a double play had he not been running.
8:22 p.m.: Leadoff walk for freshman center fielder Enrique Bradfield Jr. He is not a batter you want to walk. One home run this season, but 46 stolen bases, the most of any Division I player in the nation in 2021.
8:17 p.m. End Top First: Leiter fields his second grounder in the frame to escape the inning, but the Bulldogs are up early on one of the nation’s best college pitchers.
8:15 p.m. Mississippi State scoring play: Kamren James sends a 3-1, knee-high fastball to left field for a home run. Mississippi State takes a 1-0 lead.
8:11 p.m.: Leiter paints a 95 mph fastball inside to Rowdey Jordan and the game starts with a strikeout.
8:10 p.m.: Fastball outside and this game is underway.
8:03 p.m.: The College World Series is just about to get started.
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 29, 2021
7:30 p.m.: The game is now scheduled to begin at 8:09 p.m. ET.
7:03 p.m.: Commentators on the ESPN2 broadcast say that rain has not come down on the field yet, but that it is set to come soon, prompting the game to be put on hold. The hope is to not have the players get up and active only to delay mid-game.
6:40 p.m.: The start of the College World Series is delayed.
6:38 p.m.: The lineups are set for tonight’s College World Series matchup.
How to watch 2021 College World Series finals Game 1?
ESPN continues its coverage of the College World Series with the first game of the series set to air on ESPN2. ESPN will show the second game of the series, while ESPN2 will again carry the third game if necessary in the best-of-three series.
Viewers will also be able to stream the College World Series finals on ESPN+ or fuboTV, which offers a free seven-day trial.
College World Series schedule, scores
Monday, June 28
|Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi State||7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)|
Tuesday, June 29
|Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi State||7 p.m. ET (ESPN)|
Wednesday, June 30
|Vanderbilt vs. Mississippi State (if necessary)||7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)|