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Daily Brews: Michigan baseball facing NCAA Tournament elimination on Saturday

Michigan ace Steve Hajjar allowed four runs in a loss to UConn.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Michigan v Vanderbilt Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Two years after falling to Vanderbilt in the 2019 national championship series, the Michigan baseball team took the diamond once again in the NCAA Tournament on Friday night.

After posting a 27-17 regular-season Big Ten record, the Wolverines finished third in the conference and earned one of the final at-large NCAA Tournament bids. As part of the South Bend double-elimination regional, Michigan’s weekend competition consists of host Notre Dame — the No. 10 national seed — along with Central Michigan and UConn.

Friday night, the Wolverines’ 2021 tournament run began in losing fashion — the same way their 2019 hopes were dashed. The Huskies took the regional opener, 6-1, behind a three-run sixth inning. Michigan managed only two hits throughout the game compared to UConn’s 11, marking an uncharacteristic performance for an offense that led the Big Ten in runs scored.

On the mound, Wolverines’ ace Steve Hajjar suffered just his second loss of the season. The redshirt sophomore pitched to a sub-3.00 ERA in the regular season prior to surrendering four earned runs in six innings of work against the Huskies. Hajjar struck out nine batters, propelling him past Chris Fetter, Rich Hill and Fritz Fisher on the Wolverines’ single-season record list.

Following the loss, Michigan’s back is now against the wall. The Wolverines will take on Central Michigan at noon on Saturday with their season on the line.

Former Michigan wrestler inks NFL contract

To most Michigan football fans, Adam Coon may not ring a bell. But in the wrestling world, he’s a household name.

The three-time NCAA All-American was a star on the mat in Ann Arbor, but he never took the field at the Big House. That didn’t stop the Tennessee Titans from inking him to an NFL contract on Friday, though. Now 26 years old, Coon is set to compete for a roster spot as an offensive lineman on a unit responsible for the success of reigning NFL rushing champion Derrick Henry.

The 6-foot-5, 265-pound NCAA heavyweight finalist graduated from Michigan in 2018 and will join former Wolverine Taylor Lewan on the Titans’ offensive line.

Juwan Howard an early candidate for NBA head coaching vacancy

Though it likely won’t materialize into anything immediately, it’s no surprise to see Juwan Howard’s NBA floating around NBA coaching vacancies once again this offseason. On Friday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Howard is one of the early candidates to replace Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, who mutually agreed to part ways with the franchise following a first-round postseason exit.

Later in the evening, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Lakers assistant Jason Kidd and Clippers assistant Chauncey Billups are the two leading candidates. But with Howard’s NBA pedigree — 19 years in the league as a player and six as a coach — and reputation as a players’ coach, he’ll always be a reasonable candidate. Whether or not he chooses to interview for any vacancies will be far more telling than any reported interest.

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