After not having pitched in 18 days, Los Angeles Dodgers’ first-round pick and No. 24 overall selection Walker Buehler took the mound Friday looking to help Vanderbilt University stave off elimination and advance to the College World Series Championship Series.
Standing in Buehler’s and Vanderbilt’s way was Texas Christian University, who was 5-0 in elimination games heading into the matchup with the defending champions. Walker came out of the gate strong, regularly sitting in the 96-97 MPH zone as he threw a scoreless first inning.
Buehler’s dominating performance came with a new delivery that worked on during the span between starts. He believes the change helped improve consistency with his drag foot, according to Ben Weinrib of VanderbiltHustle.com:
(It helped with) consistency in the drag foot,” Buehler said. “I kind of looked at some stuff in my last couple outings, and I was inconsistent on my land foot. That sort of starts with the drag foot, and you go over the head, it takes some time, and you put your foot where you want it. It helps.”
The Dodgers’ draft pick, who has yet to sign, eventually settled in around the low 90s while also featuring devastating offspeed pitches. Buehler retired the game’s first 10 batters and went on to collect eight strikeouts while allowing just one run in 6.2 innings.
Vanderbilt’s offense provided plenty of run support, walking away with a 7-1 victory that clinched a berth to the CWS Championship Series. They’ll defend their title in a best-of-three series rematch that starts Monday against the Virginia Cavaliers.