Moving from historic Rosenblatt Stadium to the new TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE, the 2011 College World Series got underway on Saturday with a game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the North Carolina Tar Heels. North Carolina started Patrick Johnson for this game their staff ace and the 25th round selection of the Colorado Rockies in the 2011 MLB Draft. Ultimately, his performance fell short as the Tar Heels lost, 7-3.
Johnson got off to a decent start, overcoming some nerves in the third inning. But things turned on him in the sixth inning when his team held a 3-2 lead. An RBI double and a two-run home run gave the Commodores a 5-3 lead and chased Johnson out of the game after he got the third out. He allowed five runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five.
Vanderbilt overcame the lackluster start of Sonny Gray. He allowed three runs on eight hits and five walks in 4.2 innings. Corey Williams, Will Clinard and Kevin Ziomek held the Tar Heels to three hits over the remaining 4.1 innings. The Tar Heels left 16 men on base, most during Gray's time on the mound.
Vanderbilt advances to the winner's bracket, while UNC needs to win in the loser's bracket to stay alive in this double-elimination round. The Texas Longhorns and the Florida Gators will battle it out on Saturday night to determine which of those teams they will face. The Rockies will follow Florida 1B Preston Tucker (16th round) in that game. Tune into ESPN at 5 p.m. MT to see how he fares.