East Carolina's Turner Brown (8) is carried by Jake Kuchmaner (29) as he celebrates after scoring in the fifth inning against Campbell in an NCAA college baseball tournament regional game in Greenville, N.C., Monday, June 3, 2019. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP)

Michigan heating up at right time, moves to super regionals

June 03, 2019 - 11:23 pm

After barely making the NCAA Tournament, Michigan is now a regional champion and on its way to the next round.

The Wolverines beat Creighton 17-6 in Corvallis, Oregon, on Monday night, rebounding from 24 hours earlier when they gave up seven runs in the ninth inning and lost 11-7 to the Bluejays, forcing a second regional final.

Also clinching spots in this weekend's best-of-three super regionals were Louisville, Oklahoma State and East Carolina.

Two other regional finals were being played Monday: Loyola Marymount at No. 1 national seed UCLA and Fresno State at No. 11 Stanford.

Michigan, like fellow regional champs Florida State and Duke, was one of the last four teams awarded at-large bids by the selection committee.

The Wolverines lost five of their last seven regular-season games and, despite winning three games in the Big Ten Tournament, were still on the bubble because of an undistinguished resume.

Other than the ninth-inning implosion Sunday, the Wolverines were sharp in their four regional games. They batted .315 and scored 40 runs and got four home runs and nine RBIs from Jimmy Kerr.

On Monday, Michigan converted three walks, a hit batter and two hits into five runs in the fourth inning to take control. The Wolverines used six pitchers, none going longer than 2 1/3 innings.

Michigan is in super regionals for the first time since 2007 and will play either UCLA or Loyola Marymount. The Wolverines need two more wins to reach the College World Series for the first time since 1984.

In other regional finals, Louisville beat Illinois State 4-3 and is in super regionals for the sixth time in seven years, Oklahoma State beat Connecticut 3-1 and East Carolina defeated Campbell 12-3 after winning 10-3 in the afternoon to force a second final. OSU and East Carolina are in super regionals for the first time since 2016.

SUPER REGIONAL MATCHUPS

The best-of-three super regionals will be played this weekend, with the eight winners advancing to the College World Series starting June 15.

The matchups: Michigan (44-19) vs. UCLA or Loyola Marymount; Oklahoma State (39-19) vs. No. 8 Texas Tech (42-17); No. 6 Mississippi (40-25) vs. No. 5 Arkansas (44-17); Florida State (39-21) vs. No. 13 LSU (40-24); Duke (34-25) vs. No. 2 Vanderbilt (52-10); No. 10 East Carolina (47-16) vs. No. 7 Louisville (47-16); No. 11 Stanford or Fresno State vs. No. 6 Mississippi State (49-13); and Auburn (36-25) vs. No. 14 North Carolina (45-15).

The higher seeded team typically plays at home for super regionals. If the participants have the same seeding, a bid process is used to determine the home team. The NCAA will make sites official Tuesday.

QUICK RECOVERY

Trey Leonard could have saved Louisville some drama in its 4-3 win over Illinois State if he had been able to make a play in center field with two outs in the ninth inning. Leonard, who entered in the seventh inning as a pinch runner, misplayed Joe Aeilts' line drive and the Redbirds went on to score the tying run.

Leonard redeemed himself in the bottom half, reaching on a bunt and scoring the winning run on Alex Binelas' bases-loaded single up the middle.

"So, you gotta forget about it. You gotta flush it," he said of his error. "We can't let your bat go to your defense, or your defense go to your at-bats. So you just gotta make a positive out of everything."

BIG BATS

— Spencer Brickhouse had a homer, two doubles and four RBIs for East Carolina.

— Jesse Franklin was 4 for 6 with a double and triple and three RBIs for Michigan.

— Carson McCusker hit a tiebreaking double in the sixth inning to lift Oklahoma State past Connecticut 3-1.

— East Carolina's Alec Burleson had three hits, including a two-run double in a four-run fifth inning, in a 10-3 afternoon win that forced a second final against Campbell.

— Creighton's Jack Strunc homered twice against Michigan, giving him four for the season.

MOUND MARVELS

— Joe Lienhard, who struggled in his previous start against TCU in the Big 12 Tournament, allowed one run on five hits in six innings for Oklahoma State.

— Sam Lanier, Cam Colmore and Garrett Saylor combined for 3 2/3 innings of shutout relief for East Carolina in the first game against Campbell.

___

AP Sports Writer Gary Graves contributed to this report.

AP Editorial Categories: 
Comments ()