Michigan Wolverines fall 8-2 to Vanderbilt in 3rd and deciding game of College World Series finals
By ERIC OLSON
AP Sports Writer
OMAHA, Neb. — Vanderbilt swept Southeastern Conference regular-season and tournament titles, set a league record for wins, tied the record with 13 draft picks and lost back-to-back games just twice.
Now the Commodores are national champions.
Mason Hickman and Jake Eder combined for 14 strikeouts, Michigan ace Karl Kauffmann was knocked out in the fourth inning, and the Commodores won the College World Series with an 8-2 win in the finalas’ Game 3 Wednesday.
Vandy (59-12) won its second title in four CWS appearances, all since 2011. The other title came in 2014.
“I felt we were going to hit well, I felt we were going to play well. I thought this was going to be a nice night for the kids,” coach Tim Corbin said.
Freshman Kumar Rocker, who was dominant in two starts, was selected Most Outstanding Player.
Hickman struck out 10 in six innings and limited the Wolverines (50-22) to one hit after he gave up three in a row to start the game. Kauffmann, making his third start in the CWS, struggled with his control, and Vandy broke open the game with three runs in the third inning and two in the fourth.
When Ako Thomas flew out to center to end the game, the Vandy dugout and bullpen emptied and catcher Philip Clarke sprinted to the mound to embrace Eder.
The loss ended a surprising postseason for Michigan, which went from being one of the last four teams picked for the 64-team NCAA Tournament to becoming the first Big Ten team to play in the finals since Ohio State in 1966. It was Michigan’s first CWS since 1984.
“They have inspired future generations of Michigan baseball players with the belief that winning a national championship is possible,” coach Erik Bakich said. “The only way you can have an Omaha program is to have an Omaha team. This is very much a tipping point for us.”
Michigan staved off elimination in the first two rounds of the national tournament after squandering leads. The Wolverines knocked off No. 1 national seed UCLA to reach the CWS.