Michigan Keeps on Rolling

That got on the College World Series road map when they upset the number one team in College Baseball, UCLA, beating them in the Super Regionals. Now they are one win away from being crowned College World Series champions after they dominated Vanderbilt 7-4 tonight.

Drake Fellows, the Vanderbilt ace did not have his best stuff struggling with command. He walked the leadoff batter in both the first and second innings and it came back to bite him. In the first after walking leadoff batter Jordan Nwogu he appeared to get a little reprieve from his defense. Jessie Franklin singled to center, Nwogu tried to advance to third and centerfielder Pat DeMarco gunned him out short of the base. Franklin advanced to second on the throw, but scored when Jordan Brewer lined a pitch into the right field corner. Brewer scored on a clutch two out single past the shortstop from Blake Nelson. The Wolverines had attacked quickly to take a 2-0 lead.

Fellows walked the first two hitters he faced in the second inning. They both went on to score, Jack Blomgren scoring on a Ako Thomas bloop double down the left field line. Despite trailing by three the Vanderbilt defenses were back and Joe Donavan scored on a ground out.

Tommy Henry pitched a masterful game, going two outs short from getting a complete game victory. He did run into some trouble in the second, giving up a leadoff single to Philip Clarke to end his no hit bid. After two whiffs Harrison Ray and Ty Duvall hit back to back singles to score Vandy’s first run. Harrison Ray scored the second run on a wild pitch from Henry.

In the fourth Michigan threatened again, putting runners on second and third with just one out. Jordan Nwogu grounded out to the pitcher and Jesse Franklin grounded out to second to diffuse the rally. Fellows would work two more innings without allowing a run, taken out with two outs in the sixth after walking the number nine hitter Ako Thomas to put runners on first and second with two outs. Zach King struck out Jordan Nwogu to end the threat.

J.J. Bleday gave the Commodore fans hope when he blasted a pitch from Henry into the right field bleachers to lead off the sixth. This put the Commodores to within one. A Jack Blomgren error and a wild pitch put a runner on third with two out. Tommy Henry was able to strike out Stephen Scott to strand the tying run on third.

Michigan used the long ball to run away from the game after that. Jimmy Kerr hit a two run homerun in the seventh to cushion the Michigan lead to 6-3. Joe Donavan hit a solo shot in the eighth to up the ante to 7-3. Michigan was able to load the bases with two walks and a single and only one man retired in that eighth inning. Jimmy Kerr went from hero to goat by popping up to third. Blake Nelson flew out to right to end that threat.

In the top of the ninth Michigan put runners on first and third with no outs. Patrick Raby kept the damage contained, striking out the next two hitters and allowing Jordan Nwogu to fly out harmlessly to right.

Tommy Henry was two outs short from throwing a complete game. He struck out eight. Pat DeMarco hit a leadoff double off him in the ninth. Jeff Criswell came on to retire the last two hitters to put Michigan one more win away from a College World Series championship. Criswell was used as a third starter for Michigan, but he has been used as closer for this College World Series.

Game Notes: Though it was a sellout crowd with 24,707 in attendance it was not a raucous crowd. Because Nebraska is a Big Ten school most people in attendance were rooting for Michigan…The General Admission ticket I bought did not guarantee me a seat. It was standing room only, but the early birds got to sit…During batting practice there was a player walking around with a bag collecting the batting practice balls. Other players would throw balls at him that they had retrieved during batting practice. They were eventually used to refill the basket for more batting practice. You don’t see them do that in the major leagues…The video screen listed all the people who played Little League ball (I think it was 1 in 20), all the people who played high school ball, all the people who played college ball and then all the people who played in a college world series. That last figure was 1 in 20,000 people get an opportunity to play in the college world series…It takes some getting used to hearing the ping off the bat instead of the crack of the ball off the wooden bat. College baseball uses aluminum bats…Drake Fellows struggled with getting his breaking ball over in the first two innings. In the third he only threw two balls as he struck out the side. He walked four on the day…Vanderbilt used three pitching visits in the first four innings. The fourth pitching visit in the sixth inning led to the departure of Fellows…Tommy Henry did not walk a hitter until he walked the leadoff hitter in the eighth inning. Jordan Brewer rifled a throw to third on a Ethan Paul single to get Austin Martin to eliminate him as a baserunner.

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