Louisville, Ky. – Michigan right fielder Johnny Slater made one of the best running, diving catches of the season for the Wolverines in the top of the ninth inning of a tie a game against Louisville in the Louisville Regional on Saturday.
But it ended up costing his team the game.
Slater sprinted about 90 feet from his position and dove across the foul line and caught a pop up by Louisville shortstop Devin Hairston about 15 feet in foul territory. Unfortunately, the great catch allowed a Louisville runner to score.
Pinch runner Colin Lyman tagged up at third on the play and scored the game-winning run as the Cardinals claimed a 4-3 decision and moved on to Sunday's Regional Championship game undefeated.
"Everyone is going to talk about that play," Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. "He is running full speed towards the line and the wind is blowing the ball back fair, he is making an aggressive play. He is running full speed not looking at the line.
"If he pulls up and it falls inside the line, that would be a really silly play. He is just trying to make an aggressive play. He is going for the catch."
Michigan (38-24), which led 1-0 going into the seventh inning, will play Bradley (36-20) in an elimination game at noon on Sunday. The Wolverines beat Bradley 10-5 on Friday in the opener but Bradley downed Morehead State 9-4 on Saturday.
The winner will play Louisville in the regional final at 4.
"It was a hell of a college baseball game," Bakich said. "I am proud of the way our guys battled back and competed, fought pitch to pitch. It was one of those type of games that comes down to a swing, a pitch, where you can see the outcome of the game was decided on a few different plays.
"We just have to come out tomorrow, it's a tournament and we're still alive."
The game was delayed for 53 minutes in the top of the second inning because of lighting in the area. But after the delay it was all Brett Adcock for Michigan.
The sophomore left-hander walked three and struck out six and had a 1-0 lead after a solo home run from Carmen Benedetti in the fourth inning.
But Adcock said he made "one mistake" and it was a big one. He left a fastball over the plate on a 2-2 pitch to Louisville first baseman Danny Rosenbaum in the top of the seventh. Rosenbaum smashed the mistake to left center for a two-run home run.
"Yeah, I was trying to do too much, which I shouldn't do," Adcock said. "I should trust my own stuff. It was suppose to be an inside fastball, I left it a little bit up. He hit a mistake. Like I said, tip my cap to him."
Louisville added a run in the eighth off Bryan Pall. But the Wolverines fought back in the bottom of the eighth. Louisville starter Brendan McKay walked Jake Bivens with one out before the Cardinals put in reliever Drew Harrington.
Jackson Glines reached on an error by Rosenbaum to put two runners on and then Harrington walked Benedetti to load the bases.
Louisville All-American closer Zack Burdi came into the game but pinch hitter Kyle Jusick hit a 98 mph fastball to left for a two-run single to tie it.
"I was ready for the opportunity and Coach called my number and I wanted to take advantage of that," Jusick said. "The guys were behind me the whole time."
Rosenbaum then singled to lead off the ninth and was replaced by pinch runner Colin Lyman. He moved to second on a ground out by Coly Fitch and stole third.
And then Slater made the play on the Hairston foul ball.
"The ball just didn't bounce our way in the last inning and like coach said were just playing in the tournament and tomorrow we have Bradley," Jusick said. "And that's all were focused on right now."
Burdi (6-0) struck out two in the ninth to get the win for Louisville. Jacob Cronenworth (3-7) worked 1.1 innings and took the loss.
"It stinks that someone has to lose that game," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said.
Jody Demling is a freelance writer
Where: Jim Patterson Stadium, Louisville, Ky.
At stake: Spot in best-of-three Super Regional against winner of Fullerton, Calif., regional
All games on ESPN3
Michigan 10, Bradley 5
Louisville 7, Morehead State 2
Bradley 9, Morehead State 4
Louisville 4, Michigan 3
Michigan vs. Bradley, noon
Michigan-Bradley winner vs. Louisville, 4 p.m.
Michigan-Bradley winner vs. Louisville, if necessary, 6 p.m.