Surrey struggled early and fell behind in the first inning. However, the Anteaters came back to take the lead while Surrey began to settle in.
But Surrey faltered in the fifth inning, losing a lead Irvine would never get back, as the Anteaters lost to the Commodores, 6-4, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
Irvine (41-23) opened the eight-team, double-elimination tournament Saturday with a 3-1 victory against Texas. The Anteaters advanced to the College World Series by winning the Corvallis Regional and the Stillwater Super Regional.
The loss to Vanderbilt (48-19) puts Irvine into a delimitation game against Texas (43-20) at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
"The score wasn't indicative of the difference between the two teams tonight," Irvine Coach Mike Gillespie told cbssports.com. "So we'll show up on Wednesday and try to give a better account of ourselves."
Surrey, a sophomore, got into some trouble early in the game, surrendering two runs in the top of first inning. After yielding a lead-off walk in four pitches to Dansby Swanson, Bryan Reynolds drove a ball through the left side to put two aboard. The next batter, Vince Conde, laid down a sacrifice bunt to put runners at second and third. Vanderbilt scored the first run of the contest when the next batter, Zander Wiel, singled to right field. One batter later, Xavier Turner put down a perfect safety squeeze on the right side to score Reynolds.
Surrey also have up an infield bunt single to lead the bases before his defense got him out of the jam without further damage by turning a 4-6-3 double play.
The Commodores also got two men on base against Surrey in the second, highlighted by a single by Swanson. But the left-hander got out of the inning by striking out Conde.
The Anteaters wasted little team getting back in the game, however, pushing across four runs in the second. With one out, Jonathan Munoz was hit by starter Tyler Beede, who struggled by giving up three hits, a walk and uncorking two wild pitches in the frame.
Grant Palmer followed with a looping single to right field, moving Munoz to third. The next better, Kris Paulino, singled to right to score Castro for Irvine's first run. It then tied the score at 2 as the next batter, Adam Alcantara, put down a suicide squeeze and Palmer was able to just slide under the throw. After a fly-out to center, Taylor Sparks singled through the middle to plate two and give the Anteaters a 4-2 advantage.
Surrey then sailed through the next two innings, retiring the Commodores in order in the third and fourth innings.
But that changed in the fifth, as Surrey struggled with his control and was hit hard by Vanderbilt. He gave up two doubles, a walk and hit a batter and the Commodores scored two runs before Surrey was chased with one out. He left the game with the bases loaded. Vanderbilt added a run on a sacrifice fly to tight field to take a 5-4 lead.
In 4 1/3 innings, Surrey (8-5), who took the loss, gave up five runs — all earned — on seven hits, walked two and struck out one.
The Commodores came inches from adding to their lead in the sixth inning. Swanson belted a shot that banked off the top of the left-field wall with one out. However, Swanson was left stranded when Irvine relief pitcher Even Brock induced a strikeout and a fly-out to left field to get out of the inning.
Vanderbilt was able to tack on a run in the seventh inning to push its lead to two, 6-4.
After the second, Irvine had problems getting their offense going. The Anteaters had runners on base in the third, fourth and seventh innings but couldn't score. They were retired in order in the fifth and sixth frames.
Relief pitcher Walker Buehler came on in the fourth for the Commodores and the Anteaters couldn't get to him. Buehler struck out four in succession in the sixth and seventh innings. Buehler (12-2) threw 5 1/3 innings of no-hit ball, walking two and striking out seven.
The Anteaters got the tying runs on first and second in the eighth inning but couldn't score.
"For us to come back the first time, we felt pretty confident," Irvine's Kris Paulino told cbssports.com. "For us to go back down one and then two runs, it seemed like it was going to take a lot. Buehler was starting to throw well, and you felt he was on a roll."
This is the Anteaters' second trip to the Division I World Series and the first since 2007.
Follow Jeff Tully on Twitter: @jefftsports.