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Louisville knocks Michigan out of NCAA tournament

Jody Demling, Special to The Detroit News

Louisville, Ky. — The University of Michigan baseball team had a great run, winning seven of its final eight games and making it into the NCAA Tournament Louisville Regional championship game.

And then the Wolverines ran out of pitching.

With No. 2 pitcher Ryan Nutof sidelined because of an illness, the Wolverines didn't have enough arms to keep up with No. 3 seed Louisville. The Cardinals pounded out 14 hits off six pitchers in a 13-4 victory.

"We knew we were going to try and piece it together a bit," Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. "It was going to be a little bit of a whole staff day. We were just going to try and keep them off balance and run some different looks at them."

Instead, the high-powered Cardinals got a hit from eight of nine starters and scored runs in six of the first seven innings of the game.

The Cardinals got a solo home run from left fielder Nick Solak, who finished the game 3-for-5 with 3 RBIs. Five of the six pitchers for the Wolverines allowed a run, including three by starter Keith Lehmann (1-4).

"Unfortunately, it didn't work out the way we wanted it," Bakich said. "But give them a lot of credit. They really play fast."

Bakich said Nutof (5-3, 3.71 ERA) came down with an illness on Thursday night and was admitted to the hospital in Louisville, noting he "spent the weekend in the hospital, so we were down an arm."

Louisville (46-16) will host the Fullerton Regional winner next weekend.

The loss ends a memorable season for Michigan (39-25), which won the Big Ten tournament as the No. 3 seed to qualify for the NCAA tournament. UM beat Bradley twice in the regional to reach the championship, including a 4-3 elimination game earlier Sunday.

"I told them how proud of them I was," Bakich said of his Wolverines. "All that we accomplished, they'll forever be champions. And that's what they'll be remembered by. We're the 149th team to play baseball at Michigan and team 149 will always be remembered as champions."

BOX SCORE: Louisville 13, Michigan 4

BOX SCORE: Michigan 4, Bradley 3

In the first game of the day, Evan Hill (2-2) gave the Wolverines 6.2 innings of seven-hit ball. He allowed two runs and left with a 4-2 lead.

Bradley added a home run in the ninth inning, but Carmen Benedetti came in to record the final two outs and get the save. Benedetti, who also plays first base, was one of four Wolverines to record an RBI.

"Prettiest win of the season," Bakich said. "Backs against the wall, fighting for our lives, our guys just grinded it out for us."

And it looked like the Wolverines were going to keep grinding. Benedetti ripped a two-run home run in the top of the first in the final game against Louisville sophomore left-hander Josh Rogers.

But the lead didn't last for long. Rogers (8-1) retired the next 10 batters and the Michigan pitchers couldn't keep Louisville's bats at bay.

Solak had a solo home run in the first and Louisville added two in the second and one in the third and fourth to take a 5-2 lead.

Michigan did have runners on first and third with one out in the sixth inning, but Travis Maezes grounded into a double play. Louisville then had three in the sixth and put it away with five in the seventh.

"Louisville is a really good team," Bakich said. "No team, no staff is more deserving. But I'm proud of our team and the strides we have made."

LOUISVILLE REGIONAL

Friday

Michigan 10, Bradley 5

Louisville 7, Morehead State 2

Saturday

Bradley 9, Morehead State 4

Louisville 4, Michigan 3

Sunday

Michigan 4, Bradley 3

Louisville 13, Michigan 4