baseball-d1 flag

Adam Hermann | | June 25, 2019

Here's what's happened in every Game 3 in College World Series finals history

Kumar Rocker strikes out 11, keeps Vanderbilt's CWS hopes alive

Since the College World Series moved to a best-of-three format in 2003, the title's been decided by a Game 3 eight times. It will happen a ninth time Wednesday night between Vanderbilt and Michigan for the 2019 College World Series title.

This is the second straight year that the CWS title comes down to a winner-take-all game. After Michigan topped Vanderbilt 7-4 in Game 1, the Commodores responded with a Kumar Rocker-led 4-1 victory Tuesday in Game 2.

CWS 2019: Full tournament bracket | Printable CWS bracket | Shop latest CWS gear | Listen live

Here's a look back at some of the biggest highlights from each Game 3 since the format was introduced in 2003.

2003: Rice def. Stanford, 14-2

The first Game 3 in College World Series title series history was a show of force from Rice. The Owls scored 14 runs on 14 hits, including seven in the bottom of the sixth, to win the school's first national championship in any sport. 

2006: Oregon State def. UNC, 3-2

Our first one-run Game 3, Oregon State staved off elimination in Game 2 and then OSU's Bill Rowe capitalized on a throwing error in Game 3 to score what would prove to be the title-winning run.

SHOP CWS GEAR: Vanderbilt | Michigan  | Florida State | Louisville | Mississippi State | Texas Tech

2008: Fresno State def. Georgia, 6-1

March Madness may have created the Cinderella Run, but Fresno State's magical championship in 2008 went down in history with the best college underdog stories. Fresno out-dueled Georgia 19-10 in an outrageous Game 2 before taking Game 3, setting the record for most losses by a national champion (31) by refusing to quit when it mattered most.

2009: LSU def. Texas, 11-4

The Longhorns forced Game 3, but in the end the Tigers' potent offense was too much for Texas to handle. LSU's national title was the first of head coach Paul Mainieri's career.

CWS HISTORY: Programs with the most CWS titles | Most CWS appearances | Winningest coaches

2014: Vanderbilt def. Virginia, 3-2

John Norwood was the man of the evening for the Commodores when he blasted a solo home run past the left field fence in the bottom of the eighth, breaking up a 2-2 tie and providing the championship-winning run. It was Vanderbilt's first-ever baseball national title.

2015: Virginia def. Vanderbilt, 4-2

Rubber match! That's right: after four seasons without a Game 3, we were treated to two in a row -- featuring the same two teams! The second time around Virginia got its revenge against Vanderbilt, topping the 'Dores 4-2 for the Cavaliers' first national title.

WATCH: Kumar Rocker strikes out 11 to force Game 3 in 2019 College World Series

2016: Coastal Carolina def. Arizona, 4-3

Three straight years, three straight first-time champs. This time, Coastal Carolina took an unorthodox route to Game 3 success, scoring four unearned runs on a pair of fielding errors to take home a dramatic 4-3 victory over Arizona. What a world.

2018: Oregon State def. Arkansas, 5-0

Oregon State wins the College World Series
The Beavers were one pop-up in foul territory away from elimination in Game 2, but they capitalized on a Razorbacks mistake, rallied to force Game 3, and then handed the ball to Kevin Abel. The freshman pitcher threw a complete game shutout, the fourth in CWS history and the first in 25 years. 

A few extra notes about these Game 3s:

  • Teams which forced Game 3 by winning Game 2 are 5-3 in the decisive final game, including Oregon State's pair of Game 3 wins.
  • Average margin of victory for Game 3 winners is pretty sizable: 4.25 runs. This is, of course, thanks in large part to Rice's 12-run victory in 2003.
  • Three of eight, or 37.5 percent, of Game 3s have decided by one run. It's not a coin-flip, but still: these are games you simply can't miss.
  • Three of the last four Game 3s have been decided by two runs or fewer. Some things just get better with age...

Another chapter will be added to Game 3 history Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. Here's how to watch and follow Vanderbilt-Michigan.

The 25 NCAA baseball champions who went undefeated in College World Series play

Nine schools have gone undefeated in Omaha en route to winning the College World Series since a format change in 1999. Here's the full group of 25 since the CWS started in 1947.

Here are the college baseball programs with the most College World Series titles

Here's a look at the college baseball programs with multiple College World Series titles.

These teams lost their first game of the College World Series and still won the national championship

Here's why there's still hope for teams that lost their first game in the 2019 College World Series.
Division I
College World Series
June 15-26, 2019
TD Ameritrade Park | Omaha, NE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from and our partners