Although they are both RubberDucks, manager David Wallace and starting pitcher Will Roberts became enemies for three days.
The 2014 College World Series came down to the wire Wednesday night, a deciding Game 3 between Vanderbilt, Wallace’s alma mater, and Virginia, Roberts’ alma mater.
The Commodores won 9-8 in Game 1 on Monday. The Cavaliers bounced back with a 7-2 victory the next day, but Vanderbilt finished things off with a 3-2 victory to capture the program’s first national championship.
Someone is still a little bitter.
“He won’t talk to me,” Wallace said through a smile about Roberts.
Roberts stopped himself one step short of earning some embarrassment to go along with the pain of defeat.
“Good thing we didn’t have a bet going or I’d be in trouble,” Roberts said. “I thought about it yesterday that if we got to Game 3, we should get something going. I guess in the end that wouldn’t have worked out for me.”
The two have had some good-natured banter going back and forth since the series started Monday.
Wallace kidded Roberts about his attire, asking him if he learned to dress in Virginia. Roberts smoothly reminded him that he just promoted another former Cavalier, Kyle Crockett, to the big leagues.
Despite the ribbing, both still have great respect for each other’s program.
“He took defeat like a true pro,” Wallace said. “He congratulated us, but then he made sure to throw in there that he still thought Virginia was the better team.”
Vanderbilt wasn’t the program it is now during Wallace’s time from 1998-2001, going 92-125. Wallace joked that he was the reason why.
Roberts, on the other hand, was integral to Virginia’s success from 2008-2011 when the Cavaliers went 195-64-1. In his junior year, Roberts threw just the 19th perfect game in NCAA Division I history.
“It was awesome,” Roberts said. “It was more fun to just share it with the guys I’d been around for three years, though. It wasn’t about me.”
“You know what’s going on,” Roberts said of coming out for the ninth inning with a perfect game. “The biggest thing is getting strike one in there. Obviously, if you made it to the ninth inning with a perfect game, you’ve got your good stuff. You’re not going to blow it then. You’ve just got to trust what you’ve got and have faith that what you have is better than what’s standing in the box.”
Wallace watched the first half of the deciding game in the RubberDucks clubhouse following their game against the Erie SeaWolves before speeding home to catch the end with his wife.
“I was a lot more excited than she was,” Wallace said.
Roberts shared the loss with his girlfriend, also a Virginia grad, at home, and also with many of his former teammates in a group text message conversation.
Roberts’ little brother, Jack, is also a redshirt freshman pitcher for the Cavaliers.
“It’s tough to be disappointed just because they made it so far,” Roberts said. “Just kind of wish they could have put one more run across and tied it up in the end.”
Lindor out 7-10 days
Indians top prospect and RubberDucks shortstop Francisco Lindor has been diagnosed with a nondisplaced nasal fracture. He is expected to miss seven to 10 days and has passed all concussion tests.
Lindor left Wednesday’s game against the Erie SeaWolves after a ground ball skipped off the infield dirt and hit him in the face while he attempted to turn a double play. Lindor immediately fell face-down to the ground and team trainers rushed to his side. After a minute or two on the ground, Lindor walked off the field on his own power with a towel to his face to stop the flow of blood.
Lindor was ranked the No. 13 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America’s preseason top 100 list. He is batting .283 with a .362 on-base percentage with six home runs and 19 stolen bases in 72 games. The day before Lindor’s injury, he was named to the MLB All-Star Futures Game roster.
August Fagerstrom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the RubberDucks blog at http://www.ohio.com/blogs/rubberducks. Follow August on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AugustF_ABJ.