Michigan makes successful return
Beats Texas Tech in first CWS game since ’84 tourney
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Stage fright was no factor for a Michigan baseball program that’s in the College World Series for the first time in 35 years. The Wolverines just kept doing what they’ve been doing since the NCAA Tournament started.
“Pitching, defense, timely hitting seems to be the recipe of the postseason,” coach Erik Bakich said.
The Wolverines got all three once again Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park.
Jimmy Kerr’s first triple in two years helped build an early lead, Karl Kauffmann pitched seven strong innings and the Wolverines opened their first CWS appearance since 1984 with a 5-3 victory over Texas Tech.
The last time Michigan made it this far, a team led by future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin went 0-2. The Wolverines had lost four straight in the CWS since winning their first game in 1983.
These Wolverines (47-20) were swept in a three-game series at Texas Tech in March and were winless in seven meetings against the Red Raiders. They lost five of seven to end the regular season and lost their opener in the Big Ten Tournament, which was played at TD Ameritrade. They sneaked into the 64-team NCAA Tournament with one of the last four at-large bids.
“We didn’t win the Big Ten Tournament, but it didn’t matter because we had confidence and we had belief, and once we got into the tournament, we didn’t care if we were one of the last four in or one of the first four in,” Bakich said.
Coming off a three-game super regional where they knocked off No. 1 national seed UCLA, the Wolverines built a four-lead in the third and Kauffmann and Jeff Criswell worked out of trouble when the Red Raiders (44-19) threatened.
Michigan broke it open when Kerr drove a ball just inside the right-field line into the corner for a two-out, two-run triple. The triple was Kerr’s first in 112 games since April 2017, and he came home on Blake Nelson’s single to make it 4-0.
Michigan plays a Bracket 1 winners’ game tonight against Florida State, which beat Arkansas 1-0.