Michigan baseball makes its case for NCAA bid
Jordan Brewer, Michigan’s star outfielder and this season’s Big Ten player of the year, missed the Wolverines’ final two games of the Big Ten tournament Saturday because of a flareup to the turf-toe ailment he’s been battling for more than a month.
Brewer is expected to be ready to go after a week of rest.
And, yes, the Wolverines’ season is expected to continue in the NCAA Tournament. The selection show is at noon Monday, and Michigan is in good position for an at-large bid.
“I think so,” said coach Erik Bakich, who’s guided Michigan to two NCAAs in the previous four seasons. “Just, 41 wins and a top-40 RPI, 39 in the RPI, based on what I can see. We have the most victories in the conference, with 20 over conference opponents. I don’t know if any of that will be the deciding factors. The committee’s got a very difficult job. We just trust they’ll make the right decision.
“And if we’re playing, we’re gonna make the most of it.”
Michigan (41-18) is projected for an at-large along with Indiana, Nebraska and Illinois, and Ohio State, as the tournament’s No. 7 seed, gets the automatic bid for winning the title, 3-1 on Sunday over Nebraska in Omaha.
Ohio State opened the tournament by beating Michigan, 2-1, pushing Michigan to the loser’s bracket. That’s a tough climb back, but the Wolverines did a noble job, first with a thrilling 5-4 walk-off victory over Illinois, thene a 10-4 win over Maryland before beating Nebraska, 18-8, early Saturday. The run ended Saturday night, with a 7-3 loss to that same Nebraska team.
“We had some big hits to get the walk-off winner, then we rode that momentum as much as we could,” Bakich said. “Our guys fought through the loser’s bracket. They emptied the tank.”
Brewer, the junior outfielder from St. Joseph, Mich., missed both games Saturday. Junior Christian Bullock filled in, and performed admirably, with three hits in the win over Nebraska.
Bakich said Brewer came to him early Saturday and told him he couldn’t put on pressure on that right foot. The big right toe is the one affected, with severe swelling in the joint.
“Sometimes it really flares up, and this time it flared up worse than it’s ever been,” Bakich said over the phone Sunday night, shortly after the team arrived back in Ann Arbor after Saturday’s marathon day. “He was basically hitting on one leg. A week of rest should be exactly what he needs to feel good again.
Big Ten tournament final
►Ohio State 3, Nebraska 1: Griffan Smith and Andrew Magno combined to hold down Nebraska’s offense, and Ohio State mustered just enough of its own to beat the Cornhuskers 3-1 in the Big Ten tournament championship game Sunday.
The seventh-seeded Buckeyes (35-25), who had to scramble to make the eight-team tournament field after sitting three games under .500 in conference play May 5, claimed the Big Ten’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid with their 11th win in 13 games.
They did it by winning in front of the overwhelmingly pro-Huskers crowd of 17,503 at TD Ameritrade Park, about 50 miles from Nebraska’s Lincoln campus.
The Buckeyes beat Minnesota, 8-6, in a semifinal postponed until Sunday morning because of the Big Ten rule that doesn’t allow a game to start after 11 p.m. They played the title game after a one-hour, 13-minute break. Nebraska (31-22) had advanced by beating Michigan on Saturday night.
What: NCAA baseball tournament selection show
When: Monday, noon
Bids: Central Michigan earned the MAC’s automatic bid by winning the conference tournament.
May 31-June 3: Regionals
June 7-10: Super Regionals
June 15: College World Series begins
Associated Press contributed;