OMAHA, Neb. — Every once in a while, Michigan has one of those games. A game with mistake after mistake, when runners score on wild pitches, advance off errors, and reach base through walks.
During the regular season, it happened against No. 8 Texas Tech, when the Wolverines allowed eight unearned runs. Then, there was the game against Indiana with four errors.
And these errors continued into the postseason when Michigan followed a game one victory with a sloppy five-error game two at No. 1 UCLA.
The exact same happened today, this time in game two of the College World Series final as two wild pitches drove in two runs for No. 2 Vanderbilt.
In Los Angeles, Wolverines’ coach Erik Bakich blamed such errors on thinking about what’s ahead.
“We’re not here if we don’t get knocked to the ground and have those moments of adversity along the way with the Corvallis Regional meltdown and then the Super Regional game two” Bakich said. “It’s just all of those experiences have calloused our mind and have made us a very resilient group.”
On Tuesday, the only thing ahead was a championship. And Michigan let it slip away.
First, sophomore shortstop Jack Blomgren missed a double play ball, letting it roll between his legs as runners found themselves on the corners. Commodores’ Harrison Ray would score, and the inning would continue until redshirt junior left-hander Ben Keizer induced a ground ball back to Blomgren, who made the play this time around.
The very next inning, Keizer would allow two base runners before being pulled after just 1.1 innings. Jack Weisenburger replaced him, only to throw two wild pitches that scored runs. He also added two walks and couldn’t get an out.
“They scored an unearned run as a byproduct of an error, we spike a couple of wild pitches that score two runs,” Bakich said. “But outside of that, the solo home run was really the one run that they had really got into.”
The offense just continued its woes with runners in scoring position as well. Eight runners were left on base Tuesday, and time and time again, Michigan would find itself with runners on second or third but unable to do anything with it.
For example, in the sixth inning, directly after going down 3-0, outfielders Jesse Franklin and Jordan Brewer found themselves on base with no outs. But the offense continued to sputter as it immediately became victim to a strikeout and two fly outs from the middle of the order.
“I thought we had chances today and I thought we could have competed a little bit better in certain spots, but we had some backwards K’s, got caught guessing,” Bakich said.
The Wolverines knew they could not make mistakes in a College World Series game, especially with Vanderbilt’s backs against the wall, and that they needed to take advantage of the Commodores’ mistakes.
Instead, the opposition took advantage of Michigan’s mistakes.