OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Connor Harrell hit the first College World Series home run in the new TD Ameritrade Park to break a sixth-inning tie and first-time qualifier Vanderbilt defeated North Carolina 7-3 on Saturday.
Harrell’s two-run homer off Patrick Johnson over the left-field bullpen followed Conrad Gregor’s tying double off the top of the wall.
Corey Williams (2-0) worked 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief for Vanderbilt starter Sonny Gray. Johnson (13-2), who had allowed three earned runs in his previous 45 innings, was tagged for four earned — five total — in six innings.
Vanderbilt (53-10), the No. 6 national seed, advanced to a Bracket 1 game Monday night against the winner of Saturday night’s Texas-Florida game. No. 3-seeded North Carolina (50-15), which left 16 on base, plays the loser of that game Monday afternoon.
The 24,500-seat TD Ameritrade Park opened to much fanfare, but the crowd of 22,745 was well short of a sellout on a warm, humid afternoon. The $131 million ballpark replaces Rosenblatt Stadium, which had hosted the CWS from 1950-2010.
Former President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch after his father, former President George H.W. Bush, delivered a video message declaring a new era for college baseball at the $131 million stadium. The elder Bush played for Yale in the first CWS in 1947 in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Vanderbilt didn’t act like a newcomer after the final out, which came when first baseman Aaron Westlake made a diving stop of Chaz Frank’s hard grounder and touched the bag. There were just normal handshakes and backslaps behind the pitcher’s mound.
The Commodores held North Carolina scoreless after the fourth inning. The Tar Heels left 16 runners on base.
Williams came on in the fifth to get Vandy out of a tough spot after Gray, the Oakland Athletics’ first-round draft pick, walked the bases loaded.
Gray lasted 4 2-3 innings, the shortest of his 18 starts since going 4 1-3 in the season opener. He allowed three runs on eight hits, walked a season-high five and hit Colin Moran with a pitch that forced in a run in the fourth.
Vandy tied it at 3 in the sixth when Gregor drove a ball off the yellow line atop the wall in left center, and then Harrell hit his eighth homer of the season for a two-run lead.
The Commodores scored two runs with two outs in the eighth on back-to-back singles by Kemp, who went 3 for 4, and Gomez.
Florida 8, Texas 4
Brian Johnson and Bryson Smith drove in two runs apiece, Hudson Randall turned in another strong start and Florida defeated Texas 8-4 at the College World Series on Saturday night.
Johnson’s two-out double in the seventh broke open a close game. Smith’s second RBI single the next inning gave reliever Nick Maronde a four-run cushion going into the ninth.
Randall (11-3) followed up a terrific eight-inning outing in the super regionals against Mississippi State with another 6 2-3 strong innings against the Longhorns, who are in the CWS for a record 34th time.
Randall scattered five hits, walked none and struck out five. Only one of the four runs against him was earned.
No. 2 national seed Florida (51-17) moves to a Bracket 1 winners’ game against Vanderbilt on Monday night. Texas (49-18) meets North Carolina in an elimination game that afternoon.
Randall, Greg Larson and Maronde limited Texas to five hits, with Maronde earning his third save with two innings of no-hit relief.
Randall retired 13 straight batters starting in the third inning. Jacob Felts broke through with a two-out single in the seventh, and Jordan Etier followed with a run-scoring double to cut Florida’s lead to 5-4 and bring on Larson.
The 6-foot-8, 225-pound right-hander caught Tant Shepherd looking at strike three to end the threat.
Taylor Jungmann (13-3), the Milwaukee Brewers’ first-round draft pick, had a third straight rough outing for the Longhorns. He went 4 1-3 innings for his shortest start of the season, and four of the five runs against him were earned.
Jungmann, who started the season 13-0, had come into the CWS off losses in his previous two starts. Jungmann allowed two doubles and a single, walked four, hit a batter and threw two wild pitches.
Johnson appeared to be robbed of a home run in the seventh after his two-out hit off Nathan Thornill bounced back onto the field after appearing to strike the railing above the yellow line atop the wall in right center. Umpires kept him at second base after conferring.
After the game, NCAA umpire coordinator Gene McArtor issued a statement acknowledging that the hit should have been ruled a home run.
Smith and Preston Tucker scored on the play, and Smith added an RBI single in the eighth.
The game drew an overflow crowd of 25,521 at the new TD Ameritrade Park, which replaced Rosenblatt Stadium as the CWS host.