Everything went to plan on Friday in Corvallis for the Michigan baseball team.
Racking up runs early, there was no let up from the Wolverines as they went on to score in five different innings, while shutting out Creighton in a crucial 6-0 first-round victory of the NCAA tournament.
Facing off against the Big East Pitcher of the Year Mitch Ragan, Michigan made him look mortal.
When junior outfielder Christian Bullock launched a two-run home run to right field in the second inning, everyone in the stadium knew the ball was gone the moment it caught his bat — especially Bullock, whose first steps around the diamond were dripping with swagger.
The Wolverines would not look back, scoring in the third inning via two sacrifice flies to go up 3-0. Aggressive baserunning from senior second baseman Ako Thomas pushed the envelope, who was narrowly safe as he advanced to third off a short fly ball into center field.
The scoring would continue for Michigan. After no runs in the fourth, it scored one run in each of the next three innings.
Two solo home runs to the same spot in right field, one from senior first baseman Jimmy Kerr and one from sophomore designated hitter Jordan Nwogu, would put the Wolverines up 5-0.
Then, in the seventh inning, sophomore shortstop Jack Blomgren injured himself on a check swing with runners on the corners. Undaunted, Blomgren poked a single to center field, grimacing along the first base line as he watched Nwogu trot in. He was pulled from the game after Kerr grounded out.
Starting junior right-hander Karl Kauffmann would not be outdone by his offense either. Throwing 8.2 innings and 123 pitches, Kauffmann allowed a base runner in seven of eight innings. Yet, Creighton presented no threats.
No inning was more symbolic of that than his final inning, where he walked the leadoff batter on four straight pitches — only to come back with two strikeouts and a ground ball out from the Big East Player of the Year Jake Holton, who was limited to just one hit in four at-bats.
It wasn’t just a first-round win for the Wolverines, it was a confidence boost for a team that needed one. It was proof that they belonged in the tournament after being one of the last four in.