After taking game one of the best-of-three series against Vanderbilt, the Michigan baseball team stumbled in game two, falling 4-1 Tuesday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska.
The loss sets up a winner-take-all game three, which will be played at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Michigan is seeking its first national championship since 1962.
It was a different looking game for the Wolverines, who first the first time since the Super Regional did not pitch Tommy Henry, Karl Kauffmann or Jeff Criswell. Instead, it was redshirt freshman Isaiah Paige who started on the mound.
Paige did exactly what Michigan needed, pitching into the fifth inning and allowing only one unearned run, which came around after he left the game. The bullpen, however, was unable to keep the Wolverines in the game.
Benjamin Kizer was charged with two runs, although both came home on wild pitches by Jack Weisenburger.
Overall, it was an extremely sloppy game defensively for Michigan. It had two errors in the field, one by Jimmy Kerr and a more costly one by shortstop Jack Blomgren. Blomgren’s error came on a ball that would’ve been an easy double play but instead, it led to Vanderbilt’s first run.
To make things worse for U-M, lead-off hitter Jordan Nwogu exited the game in the third inner with a quad injury. It came on a ground ball that was bobbled, and had he not been injured, would’ve resulted in the bases being loaded with only one out. Instead, the inning ended a batter later.
The mistakes and bad breaks added up, and paired with the outstanding pitching by Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker, it just wasn’t Michigan’s night. U-M was 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
U-M had a great chance in the sixth inning, when it got its first two batters on base with no outs. The Wolverines then produced three quick outs, ending the threat.
The Commodores added another run in the seventh on a solo home run by Philip Clarke.
Rocker pitched six and 1/3 innings and gave up one run while striking out 11. He walked two and allowed just three hits before leaving the game after throwing 104 pitches. The run he allowed came after he was taken out, when Ako Thomas singled home Blomgren. That hit was off of Vanderbilt closer Tyler Brown, who entered after Rocker left in the seventh.
Blue battles back!— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 26, 2019
Wolverines get on the board to cut the lead to 3! #CWS | @umichbaseball pic.twitter.com/h8pNkJYBRS
Michigan had an opportunity to get back in it with two on and two out, but Jordan Brewer struck out looking. Brown went on to finish off the Wolverines with ease in the eighth and ninth.
Kauffman is expected to start game three, with Criswell ready to pitch out of the bullpen and the national championship on the line.