OMAHA, Neb. -- Virginia completed an improbable run to its first national championship with another come-from-behind win Wednesday night at the College World Series -- its seventh in 10 NCAA postseason victories in 2015 -- to claim the first title in baseball for the Atlantic Coast Conference since Wake Forest in 1955. In a rematch of the championship series from a year ago, the Cavaliers beat Vanderbilt in the second and third games of the finals at TD Ameritrade Park.
Here's how it went down in the finale.
How the game was won: The Cavaliers used a two-run homer in the fourth inning from first baseman Pavin Smith to even the score after the Commodores grabbed the lead on a pair of runs in the first off Virginia starter Brandon Waddell. Smith's two-out single in the fifth scored Adam Haseley to put Virginia on top for good, and the Cavaliers added a run in the seventh on Kenny Towns' two-out single, again scoring Haseley.
Game ball goes to: Pavin Smith. The freshman from Jupiter, Florida, jumped all over a hanging, 1-0 breaking ball from Walker Buehler. Smith's seventh home run of the season and the first for either team in the finals energized the Virginia offense, which struggled early against Buehler -- a recent first-round pick of the Dodgers. Smith, 5-for-24 in Omaha before Wednesday, finished 2-for-3 with a walk and played well defensively.
Unsung hero: Brandon Waddell. It's impossible to ignore the junior lefty, who has served for the past two years as Virginia's rock on the pitcher's mound during two runs to the championship series. Working on three days of rest Wednesday, Waddell, in his 11th career postseason start, lasted seven innings and allowed two runs, four hits and threw 104 pitches in an ultra-gutsy effort. The victory marked Virginia's fifth in five CWS starts for Waddell.
Stat of the game: Virginia completed the season 44-24, the first national champion with fewer than 45 wins since USC finished 43-12-1 in 1968. The low total for the Cavs materialized after they won just 10 of 24 games during a five-week midseason stretch, including an 8-11 mark in April. Virginia was the third team to win a national title, joining Oregon State in 2007 and Fresno State in 2008, seeded third or lower in a four-team regional, and its postseason appearance marked the 194th -- including 46 trips to the CWS -- for the ACC since the 1955 title.
Best play: After Smith's homer evened the game in the top of the fourth, Vanderbilt threatened in the bottom half as Penn Murfee doubled with one out and advanced on Jason Delay's foul out. Tyler Campbell then rocketed a hard grounder that looked on target for the left-field corner, but third baseman Kenny Towns snagged it, rolling into foul territory and popped to his feet. Smith stretched to record the out at first, saving a run.
What it means: Don't overvalue the regular season. As we've seen in recent years, the team that gets hot at the end will win the title. Virginia is the fourth consecutive champion that did not enter postseason play among the eight national seeds and the 10th in the past 12 seasons. The victory Wednesday cements coach Brian O'Connor's legacy in Charlottesville. He has made it to his native Omaha four times in 12 seasons and led Virginia to more wins than any program nationally since 2009. The championship for Virginia is its 23rd department-wide, including seven in men's soccer, but first in the major American trio of football, basketball and baseball.