Win or go home.
That was the scenario for the Michigan baseball team Monday after missing out on a chance Sunday to advance to the Super Regional. After losing to Creighton 11-7, they faced the Bluejays once again for another chance to advance.
In the top of the fifth inning with no outs and the bases loaded, redshirt freshman right-hander Isaiah Page stepped onto the mound. The Wolverines were clinging to a 6-4 lead, but Page cooly forced the first two batters he faced to pop out and struck out the final batter swinging to get out of the jam.
Michigan didn’t seemed phased by the sudden-death atmosphere, eventually winning 17-6.
Freshman left-hander Walker Cleveland was on the mound for the Wolverines. But he didn’t last long. Creighton drew first blood in the second inning. Leadoff hitter Will Robertson took the 0-2 pitch deep for a solo-shot down the right-field line. The Bluejays added another run in the top of the third off an RBI triple which ended Cleveland’s day. Sophomore right-hander Blake Beers replaced him and retired the side.
The Wolverines responded in the bottom of the third with the bases loaded. Senior infielder Blake Nelson earned a walk to score sophomore outfielder Jesse Franklin to cut the deficit to 2-1.
Creighton’s leadoff hitters continued their hot batting in the fourth with another solo home run down the left-field line, this time by Jack Strunc. Beers continued to struggle giving up a double to the next batter and later an RBI single to make it 4-1 after the top of the fourth.
But for each punch that the Bluejays landed, Michigan had a counter.
Two consecutive walks to open the bottom of the fourth forced a pitching change for Creighton as John Sakowski replaced Evan Johnson. But that didn’t stop the Wolverines’ bats. Sakowski gave up back-to-back runs after a double by Franklin scored two and a single by junior outfielder Jordan Brewer allowed two more to cross the plate. Brewer also scored when Nelson grounded out to third base, giving Michigan a 6-4 lead.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, a solo home run came from sophomore catcher Joe Donovan who had hit only six all year prior to Monday to extend the Michigan lead to 7-4.
The Wolverines blew the game wide open in the sixth and seventh innings, scoring ten runs and allowing only one to take a 17-5 lead.
The most satisfying play of the game for Michigan came in the sixth inning when sophomore infielder Jack Blomgren laid down a suicide squeeze to perfection. The Creighton infield was unaware of the large leadoff the runners on second and third had, allowing both to score. The timely play call by Michigan coach Erik Bakich put the Wolverines firmly in the driver's seat.
Junior right-hander Jack Weisenberger entered the game in the ninth inning and closed the game out for the Wolverines.
The win propelled Michigan to their first Super Regional in 12 years. They will face the winner of Loyola Marymount and UCLA.