Astros draftee tosses 5 2/3 strong innings in College WS before game suspended
By Cash Kruth
OMAHA, Neb. -- Cal State Fullerton right-hander Thomas Eshelman was in complete control Sunday night, keeping Vanderbilt off balance throughout the first 5 2/3 innings of their College World Series matchup.
It was apparent the Commodores wouldn't have much of a shot against Eshelman, the Astros' second-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Then lightning came, the skies opened up and play was suspended. By Monday, Vanderbilt's offense had new life.
Vanderbilt freshman Jeren Kendall capped the Commodores' ninth-inning comeback with a two-run, walk-off home run to give Vanderbilt a 4-3 win on Monday afternoon in his first career College World Series game.
"I dream a lot, so I dream a lot about big moments," Kendall said when asked if he ever envisioned hitting a walk-off in Omaha. "Just hearing the guys talk about their experiences last year kind of made me a little more comfortable, obviously coming in here as a freshman not knowing what it's like. So, yeah, I felt pretty comfortable today."
Vanderbilt advances to play No. 7 Texas Christian at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, while Cal State Fullerton faces No. 2 Louisiana State in an elimination game at 3 p.m.
College World Series action continued Monday afternoon with Arkansas facing No. 5 Miami, with Florida and Virginia scheduled to begin approximately 55 minutes after that game ends.
Vanderbilt's comeback started right away on Monday, as first baseman Zander Wiel hit an RBI double on the first pitch of day for the Commodores' first run. Wiel opened the ninth-inning rally with another double, and Bryan Reynolds followed with an RBI double of his own.
Then Kendall launched an 0-1 slider from Titans lefty reliever Tyler Peitzmeier (ninth round, Cubs) high off the back wall of the right-field bullpen for the first walk-off homer in the history of TD Ameritrade Park.
The second-day offensive fireworks overshadowed Eshelman's strong but abbreviated performance in a pitchers' duel against Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer (No. 8 overall, White Sox). Eshelman allowed one run on four hits and struck out eight in 5 2/3 innings, while Fulmer allowed three runs on four hits, walked two and threw three wild pitches. He struck out seven.
Vanderbilt lefty reliever John Kilichowski (39th, Cubs) tossed 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, while Kyle Wright recorded the final two outs for the Commodores.
Vanderbilt 4, Cal State Fullerton 3*
Arkansas vs. No. 5 Miami
Virginia vs. No. 4 Florida
No. 2 Louisiana State vs. Cal State Fullerton, 3 p.m.
No. 7 Texas Christian vs. Vanderbilt, 8 p.m.
*Resumed from Sunday night
Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.