The Michigan baseball team is headed to the College World Series championship series.
The Wolverines, who have captivated the country as the tournament’s Cinderella story, defeated Texas Tech for the second time in the last week, pounding the Red Raiders 15-3 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
Michigan scored in each of the first four innings. Jimmy Kerr drove in the game’s first run on an RBI double, scoring Jesse Franklin. One batter later, Blake Nelson singled to bring home Kerr.
Texas Tech fought back in the second inning, taking a 3-2 lead. Dru Baker singled home the Red Raiders’ first run and Braxton Fulford picked up an RBI on a bunt, which was misplayed by U-M pitcher Karl Kauffmann. They took the lead on a single by Easton Murrell.
The Wolverines bounced right back in the bottom half of the inning. With the bases loaded, Ako Thomas singled home Jack Blomgren to tie the game. Franklin then walked to re-load the bases, and Jordan Brewer was hit by a pitch, bringing home Michigan’s fourth run.
In the bottom of the third inning, Michigan scored two more runs on a 2-run double by Franklin, who finished the game 3-for-5 with four RBIs.
One inning later, the Wolverines tacked on one more run on a wild pitch.
Michigan blew the game open in the sixth inning, scoring five more runs. Thomas walked with the bases loaded, Jordan Nwogu drilled a 2-run double and Franklin hit a 2-run infield single.
Kerr, who was drafted by the Detroit Tigers, then added insult to injury with a lead-off home run in the seventh, making it 13-3. The Wolverines scored another run on a bases loaded walk to Nwogu later in the inning. It was his third RBI of the game.
Up to bat again in the eighth, Kerr wasn’t done. He jacked his second home run of the game, giving U-M a 15-3 lead. He finished the game 4-for-6 with three RBIs.
Kauffman pitched six innings and allowed three runs on six hits and four walks, while striking out two. He battled through a shaky first few innings to give Michigan a quality outing overall before Jeff Criswell came on in relief and pitched the final three innings.
Michigan is the first team to reach the national championship series using three pitchers or less in the College World Series since Georgia did so in 1990.
Texas Tech starter Micah Dallas lasted just one plus inning. He gave up four runs on five hits and walked a batter without striking anyone out. He was relieved by Detroit Tigers 11th round draft pick John McMillon, who allowed two runs on two hits, but walked four hitters. He did strike out five Wolverines, but his control just wasn’t there.
Michigan will now play the either Vanderbilt or Louisville for the national championship in a best of three series. Game one will be Monday at 7 p.m., game two will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. and game three, if necessary, would be Wednesday at 7 p.m.
The Wolverines have won two national titles in baseball, coming in 1953 and 1962. The Big Ten hasn’t won the national title since 1966 (Ohio State).