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Michigan eliminates No. 1 UCLA, advances to College World Series

The Wolverines are going to Omaha for the first time since 1984.

College World Series - Arkansas v Oregon State - Game One Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines defeated the number one ranked UCLA Bruins by a score of 4-2 at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Los Angeles, sending Michigan to the College baseball World Series in Omaha for the first time since 1984. The only other Big Ten team to reach the College World Series in those 35 years were the Indiana Hoosiers in 2013.

Left-handed starter Tommy Henry, a recent draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitched seven innings, allowing two runs. Reliever Ben Keizer shut out the Bruins for the final two innings, stranding the tying runs in scoring position to seal the victory for Michigan. The performance by Henry was particularly gritty, considering that he had the flu during the week and was hospitalized, receiving fluids through an IV. Henry defeated the Bruins earlier in the season, when Michigan defeated UCLA by a 7-5 score on March 8.

The top ranked Bruins had not lost a season series all year, finishing with a record of 52-11. Michigan, now 46-20, advanced to the three-game series in the super regionals after winning their regional bracket in Corvallis, Oregon, which was hosted by defending national champions, Oregon State.

Starting pitching has been the strength of Michigan’s team all season. Starter Karl Kauffmann, a Rockies second rounder, pitched eight innings of one hit ball in the series opener as Michigan hung on for a 3-2 victory. Jeff Criswell, who got the final two outs in the opener, went 5 13 innings in game two, allowing one earned run and putting the Wolverines on the verge of advancing, but UCLA came back to earn a 5-4 win in 12 innings.

Henry was Michigan’s first player to be drafted in last week’s MLB amateur player draft, being selected in the supplemental second round by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Kauffmann was taken just four picks later by the Colorado Rockies. Both left handed starters are juniors who will turn pro after this season.

But first, Michigan will take on Texas Tech in the world series opener. The College World Series is played every year in Omaha, Nebraska, with eight schools competing in a double elimination tournament. Texas Tech is the school that ended the Wolverines season in the Western Regionals of the NCAA basketball tournament in March.

The last time that the Wolverines advanced to the college world series, they had a powerful lineup that featured now Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, as well as former major leaguers Hal Morris, and Chris Sabo. Current Wolverines’ first baseman, Jimmy Kerr, who was player of the regional tournament, was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 33rd round of the draft. Kerr is the grandson of John Kerr, a pitcher on the 1962 Michigan squad that won the NCAA national championship.

Following are the teams who will participate in the College World Series in Omaha:

  • Michigan vs Texas Tech
  • Vanderbilt vs Louisville
  • Florida State vs Arkansas/ Ole MIss winner
  • Mississippi State vs North Carolina/ Auburn winner

The matchups listed are the contests that will be played in the opening round of the tournament. The winners will play off in two games, while the losers will play each other in elimination games, until all but one team has suffered two defeats. The final two games of the super regionals will be played on Monday to round out the field of eight.

For more coverage of Michigan’s run through the NCAA tournament, check out our friends at Maize n Brew.