CORVALLIS, Ore. –The third-seeded University of Michigan baseball team stormed back from an early deficit Monday (June 3) and the Wolverines dominated second-seeded Creighton by a score of 17-6 to win the Corvallis Regional at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field and advance to the Super Regional round.
Michigan (44-19) advances to Super Regional play as one of the final 16 teams playing college baseball. The Wolverines will play the winner of UCLA vs. Loyola Marymount at a location and time to be determined next weekend. Michigan’s last time in the Super Regionals came in 2007 when, ironically, the Wolverines advanced to play in Corvallis, Ore.
Creighton sees its season end at 41-13. The Big East-champion Blue Jays won 16 of their last 19 games with two of those losses coming to Michigan.
Playing with two hampered stars and without an injured Ako Thomas, Michigan came back from deficits of 2-0 and 4-1, answering loudly each challenge from a talented Creighton team.
Following a 1-2-3 first inning Creighton jumped on Michigan starter Walker Cleveland in the second inning as Will Robertson hit a 1-2 curveball down the right field line for a solo home run. In the third a line drive single and an RBI triple from Parker Upton forced Michigan to the bullpen early as Blake Beers entered.
Michigan loaded the bases with two outs in the third inning against Creighton starter Mitch Ragan. Blake Nelson worked a walk to bring home a run and the Blue Jays went to Evan Johnson out of the bullpen. Johnson then got a full-count strikeout on a high fastball to get out of further trouble.
Jack Strunc got the run back for Creighton when he took a low 1-0 fastball and lofted it just beyond the outfield wall for a 3-1 lead. A bloop double and a one-out seeing-eye single up the middle made it a 4-1 game.
Michigan again had a chance offensively in the bottom of the fourth as Johnson walked the first two batters he saw as he ran out of gas due to being on just one day’s rest after throwing more than 90 pitches against Oregon State on Saturday. John Sakowski entered but got into trouble and yielded a bases loaded two-run double to Jesse Franklin, a two-run single to Jordan Brewer and an RBI groundout to Nelson as Michigan took a 6-4 lead. Brewer also stole two bases in the inning as the Big Ten Player of the Year continued to make his presence felt in his return from a foot injury.
Michigan’s bullpen immediately made it interesting again in the fifth when a hit batsman and two walks between two relievers forced Michigan to its third pitcher of the inning in Isaiah Paige. The freshman was amazing, inducing two pop ups and then getting a strikeout to escape unscathed.
Joe Donovan extended that momentum when he turned on an 0-2 fastball from Sakowski in the bottom of the frame and blasted a solo home run high over the left field wall for a 7-4 lead.
Franklin led off the sixth with a line drive single to right and Brewer laced a double to left field, setting the stage for Kerr who responded with a two-run single through the right side for a 9-4 lead. That set the stage for the potential play of the tournament. Michigan advanced runners to second and third for Jack Blomgren, who laid down a perfect suicide squeeze but it was even better than that as Nelson never let up and scored all the way from second for a two-run play and an 11-4 lead.
Strunc struck again in the seventh when he lined a homer again just over the wall. Following a double, Ben Keizer came out of the bullpen and got three outs, including a strikeout.
Franklin collected his fourth hit of the day, crushing an 0-2 fastball for an RBI triple to right-center to score Riley Bertram (single) for a 12-5 lead. Two walks loaded the bases and Nelson was hit by a pitch to force home another run. Christan Bullock then ended with a two-run double when his grounder rolled off the second baseman’s glove for a 15-5 lead. Two more runs would score on wild pitches for a 17-5 lead.
Creighton added an unearned run in the eighth but would get no closer.
Six different players drove home at least two runs. Franklin (four hits, three RBI) and Brewer (three hits, three steals, two RBI) led the way offensively. Blake Beers was credited with the win in relief. The big righty struck out two batters in 1.2 innings of relief as Michigan claimed a 6-4 lead during his time on the mound.