OMAHA, Neb. — Pavin Smith homered and drove in three runs, and Brandon Waddell turned in another strong College World Series pitching performance Wednesday night, leading Virginia over Vanderbilt 4-2 for the school’s first baseball national championship.

The Cavaliers (44-24) prevailed in a finals rematch against the defending champ Commodores and brought the Atlantic Coast Conference its first baseball title since Wake Forest in 1955.

Waddell (5-5) went seven innings and allowed two hits after Vanderbilt (51-21) scored twice in the first. He retired the last 11 batters he faced. It was Waddell’s fifth career CWS start and Virginia won each of them.

Nathan Kirby pitched the last two innings and struck out five for his first save. John Kilichowski (3-4) took the loss.


THE VANDERBILT and Virginia baseball teams both took foreign trips in the offseason, and both ended up in the College World Series finals.


Coaches Tim Corbin of Vanderbilt and Brian O’Connor of Virginia don’t know about that. But spending a week together out of the country did accelerate the bonding of the newcomers and returning players for both teams.

Vanderbilt went to the Dominican Republic during Thanksgiving break, and Virginia went to Panama and Costa Rica for a week in December. The trips provided extra practice and games against local teams, in addition to opportunities for touring and community service.

“I felt this was the year to do this because I knew that we were going to have a lot of turnover from last year,” O’Connor said. “I felt it was important for this year’s club to have that experience, to hopefully get them to spend time together, to value the relationships they have and the experiences they have with each other.”

Corbin said he saw value in having his players engage in activities away from their sport.

“We want to get our kids out there,” he said. “We want them to get experiences that supersede baseball.”

One of Virginia’s rallying cries starting in the fall was “Panama to Omaha,” and it came to fruition.

The NCAA allows teams to take a foreign trip once every four years. O’Connor hopes to take another one in 2018.