'Today was better': UM baseball shakes off meltdown, makes first Super Regional since 2007
If there was a hangover for the Wolverines, well, then, good news America.
Michigan baseball apparently has found the cure.
Jesse Franklin, a sophomore from Seattle, had four hits and three RBIs in his return to the Pacific Northwest, and Michigan stomped Creighton, 17-6, on Monday night to win the Corvallis, Ore., NCAA Tournament regional.
The victory came less than 24 hours after Michigan was shell-shocked over losing a three-run, ninth-inning lead in an 11-7 loss to Creighton.
"That's a good way to say it: Today was better," Michigan coach Erik Bakich said late Monday night, over the phone from the campus of Oregon State.
"You know, adversity happens in baseball, and there's no stage and no bigger adversity than a Super Regional on the line, and blowing that three-run lead. So today was all about the response."
And boy did the Wolverines (44-19) respond, winning their first regional championship since 2007.
Michigan was the No. 3 seed out of four teams in the regional, but went into Sunday undefeated, until the bullpen melted down against Creighton.
It made for a sullen scene late Sunday night, Creighton (41-13) celebrating the comeback on the field, and Michigan gathered in the dugout, tuned to Bakich.
Late Monday, Bakich had forgot what he had said Sunday night. But he paraphrased.
"We meet in the dugout to debrief every game, win or lose, that's part of our routine," he said. "I forget what I said, but basically, what happened in the ninth inning isn't going to have any impact on what's going to happen tomorrow.
"We're still alive, we're gonna regroup in the morning, and we sure did."
Michigan banged out 13 hits and stormed back from an early 4-1 deficit to put up five runs in the bottom of the fourth, four in the sixth and six in the seventh.
In the Super Regional, it will play at UCLA (51-9) in a best-of-three series, with the winner moving on to the College World Series.
For the Michigan fans, it would've been tough to imagine late Sunday night. And even for those inside the program, that Sunday collapse was a gut-punch.
"It's almost like we needed to have that happen in order to have that happen today," said Bakich, in his seventh year as Michigan coach, and heading to his first Super Regional. "All these moments that have happened this season ...
"Those experiences are making us tougher and making us better."
Michigan scored 40 runs and swatted eight homers in its four regional games. Jimmy Kerr, who had four homers and nine RBIs in the regional, was named the most outstanding player of the regional.
Kerr's grandfather, John, was a pitcher on Michigan's 1962 national-championship team, and his father, Derek, was a catcher on the 1984 Michigan team that made it to the College World Series.
Michigan's last College World Series appearance was in 1984.
It's now two wins away from going back, with the best-of-three series against UCLA set for Friday, Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday.
Creighton was led by Jack Strunc, who had two homers for the Big East champion.
There was more good news immediately following Michigan's victory, with the Wolverines' top two starting pitchers, Portage left-hander Tommy Henry and Bloomfield Hills right-hander Karl Kauffmann being drafted in the second round, No. 74 by the Arizona Diamondbacks and 77 by the Colorado Rockies, respectively, in the MLB Draft.
At Goss Stadium, Corvallis, Ore.
Game 1: Michigan 6, Creighton 0
Game 2: Cincinnati 7, Oregon State 6
Game 3: Creighton 4, Oregon State 1
Game 4: Michigan 10, Cincinnati 4
Game 5: Creighton 6, Cincinnati 1
Game 6: Creighton 11, Michigan 7
Game 7: Michigan 17, Creighton 6
Los Angeles Super Regional
At Jackie Robinson Stadium; best-of-three
MICHIGAN (44-19) VS. UCLA (51-9)
Friday: 9, ESPN2
Saturday: 9, ESPN2
Sunday, if necessary: 9, ESPN2
Associated Press contributed;