Site: Corvallis, Ore. (Goss Stadium at Coleman Field)
Score: Michigan 10, Cincinnati 4
Records: U-M (43-18), Cincinnati (31-30)
Next Game: Sunday, June 1 — vs. No. 22 Creighton or Cincinnati (Corvallis, Ore.), 6 p.m. PDT
CORVALLIS, Ore. — The No. 2 seed University of Michigan baseball team came from behind to score nine runs between the sixth and eighth innings as the Wolverines downed No. 4 seed Cincinnati, 10-4, at the NCAA Tournament Corvallis Regional on Saturday night (June 1) at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field.
Michigan (43-18) advances to Sunday’s 6 p.m. PDT regional final and will take on either Cincinnati or No. 22-ranked Creighton — which eliminated Oregon State earlier Saturday. The winner of Sunday’s 3 p.m. PDT contest between the Bearcats and Bluejays will face Michigan with the Wolverines needing just one win to claim a regional title.
Playing without two of its star players (Big Ten Player of the Year Jordan Brewer and Jack Blomgren) due to injury, Michigan scored five times in the sixth inning to erase a 4-1 deficit and take a 5-4 lead. Freshman Riley Bertram made his first career start at shortstop for Blomgren and rang the bell with a 4-for-4 offensive effort. He was a key cog in turning over the Michigan lineup as the Wolverines collected 12 hits against four Cincinnati hurlers.
Jordan Nwogu led off the game with a boom as he crushed a 2-0 fastball from Cincinnati starter David Orndorff high over the right-field wall into the last row of the bleachers.
Cincinnati (31-30) tied the game at 1 in the second inning. With one out, Jace Mercer hit a 2-2 fastball hard to right field and ended with a double as his ball was lost in the sun. He advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a strikeout when catcher Joe Donovanthrew the ball to first base to record the out on the batter.
Michigan consistently got runners on base but could not string quality at-bats together until it was trailing in the middle innings.
In the bottom of the fifth, Cincinnati threatened with a leadoff walk followed by a four-pitch walk. Michigan starter Jeff Criswell came through with consecutive strikeouts of Cole Murphy and Mitch Holding before loading the bases with a walk to No. 9 hitter Jeremy Johnson. Leadoff hitter Eric Santiago got ahead in the count, 2-1, and then rode a fastball off the wall in left-center to clear the bases to give the Bearcats a 4-1 lead.
Michigan answered in the top of the sixth. Ako Thomas laced a single to left field and advanced to second on a passed ball. Jimmy Kerrthen pounced on a 1-0 fastball and drove his second home run of the regional out of the stadium down the right-field line to cut Cincinnati’s lead to 4-3. Two Bearcat relievers then walked the bases loaded with no outs. Donovan worked a full count and narrowly missed a grand slam, but settled for a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 4. Another walk again loaded the bases and a strikeout was followed by a bases-loaded walk to Franklin to make it a 5-4 Michigan lead. Thomas was then hit by a 1-1 fastball and forced home another run to make the score 6-4. Cincinnati went back to the bullpen for its fourth pitcher of the inning. AJ Kullman ended the frame after Kerr laced a rocket to right field but right at AJ Bumpass, who made the catch for the third out.
Bertram’s fourth hit of the night led off the eighth inning and it counted greatly as Thomas delivered him from second base with a two-out single to right-center on a 3-2 fastball. Two batters later, Blake Nelson lined an RBI single to left and both Thomas and Kerr (walk) scored with Nelson going to third base on a fielding error. Christan Bullock then roped an RBI single to right field to open a 10-4 Michigan advantage.
Joining Bertram’s offensive exploits Saturday was Nelson, who contributed a 3-for-4 effort while remaining perfect in stolen bases (15-of-15) with a swipe in the seventh. Thomas, who moved into the three-hole in the lineup due to Blomgren’s late scratch, was impressive with a 2-for-3 day and two runs batted in.
Michigan collected 12 hits and seven different Wolverines recorded an RBI, with Thomas and Kerr leading the way with two apiece.
Criswell worked into the eighth inning. The first team All-Big Ten pitcher gave another solid start, striking out nine batters while scattering eight hits over 7.2 innings. He gave way to Oregon native Willie Weiss, as the freshman delighted his hometown fans with 1.1 scoreless innings and ended the game by striking out the side in the ninth.