2021 College World Series: Jayson Gonzalez stars in Vanderbilt's win against Arizona
Barry Allen • 6/20/2021 in Baseball
Jayson Gonzalez delivered when Vanderbilt needed him the most.
The senior third baseman stroked a walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th inning to lift Vanderbilt to a 7-6 win over Arizona at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Commodores improved to 5-0 all-time in CWS openers thanks to Gonzalez's heroics.
Isaiah Thomas and Parker Noland started the winning rally with back-to-back singles off UA closer Vince Vannelle.
Thomas and Noland were a combined 0-for-10 with three strikeouts entering the final inning.
Thomas singled up the middle and Noland followed with a bunt single to second base.
After CJ Rodriguez fouled out, Javier Vaz walked to load the bases. Gonzalez singled on a 1-2 pitch past a diving shortstop to send Thomas home with the winning run.
Gonzalez matched his season high with three hits and posted a season-high three RBIs in the win.
He also belted a two-run home run in the fourth inning to tie the game at 3-3.
The Commodores are the defending CWS champions, but Gonzalez did not play a part in that championship run.
He played 25 games in 2019 before losing his starting job to Austin Martin. Gonzalez did not make an appearance in the 2019 CWS. He wasn't part of the team in 2020, but returned to the lineup this year, and even then lost his job for portions of the season.
The Commodores had opportunities to win the game in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings, but could not push the winning run across. Vandy left the bases loaded in the 11th inning.
Arizona jumped on Vandy ace Kumar Rocker for three runs in the first inning to grab an early 3-0. Brandon Boissiere stroked a two-run double in the frame.
Rocker had allowed only three runs in previous six NCAA Tournament starts and was the Most Outstanding Player as a freshman in the 2019 CWS.
After the rugged first inning, Rocker retired the next 15 hitters before a hit batter and two-run homer by Ryan Holgate chased him in the sixth.
Carter Young hit a go-ahead two-run home run in the seventh to give the Commodores their first lead at 6-5.
It was Young’s 16th home run of the season, and first since returning from a shoulder injury suffered on May 18.
Arizona tied the game with a ninth-inning sac fly which was the only blemish against the Vandy bullpen.
Nick Maldonado worked 2 2/3 innings in relief of Rocker.
The right-hander has allowed only one run and one hit over his last four appearances. Prior to that, he had yielded four home runs in his five previous outings, including three straight against Kentucky, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech.
Luke Murphy added 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Chris McElvain pitched around a leadoff double and finished the scoreless 12th inning with two strikeouts.
Vandy pitchers struck out 19 and walked only one.
The Commodores will play North Carolina State in the winner’s bracket on Monday at 7 p.m. (ET).