Oklahoma St., Louisville win, head to NCAA super regionals
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 No. 1 national seed UCLA, No. 7 Louisville, No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 10 East Carolina and 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 UCLA. The Wolverines need two more wins to reach the College World Series for the first time since 1984.
UCLA, playing without All-Pac 12 leadoff man Garrett Mitchell because of illness, beat Loyola Marymount 6-3 to return to super regionals for the first time since winning the 2013 national title. Louisville won its regional for the sixth time in seven years with a 4-3 win over Illinois State.
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.
Stanford’s 9-7 win over Fresno State sends the Cardinal to super regionals for the first time since 2014.
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 (51-9); 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); East Carolina (47-16) vs. Louisville (47-16); No. 11 Stanford (45-12) 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.
Trey Leonard could have saved Louisville some drama 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, misjudged 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.”
— UCLA’s Chase Strumpf hit a three-run homer and also had a double.
— Stanford’s Maverick Handley homered twice, with his second one starting a six-run sixth inning.
— Spencer Brickhouse had a homer, two doubles and four RBIs for East Carolina.
— Michigan’s Jesse Franklin was 4 for 6 with a double and triple and three RBIs.
— Carson McCusker hit a tiebreaking double in the sixth inning for Oklahoma State.
— Creighton’s Jack Strunc homered twice against Michigan, giving him four for the season.
— Stanford’s Brendan Beck, in his first relief appearance of the season, pitched 3 1/3 innings of no-hit relief as setup man for closer Jack Little.
— 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.