Jordan Brewer's cannon cuts down speedy Austin Martin, kills Vanderbilt's rally hopes
Omaha, Neb. — With Vanderbilt’s speedy Austin Martin heading to third, Michigan right fielder Jordan Brewer laced a throw to third.
Brewer said he knew even before the ball was hit his way, he was going to nail Martin at third. With Michigan lead, 7-3, in the bottom of the eighth, the throw prevented Vanderbilt, with one out at the time, from a momentum-building moment. Michigan won the first game of the College World Series championship series, 7-4 at TD Ameritrade Park Monday night.
“I don't think I've yelled that loud on the baseball field in a long time,” Michigan starting pitcher Tommy Henry said of Brewer’s throw. “I mean, just how big of a spot it was, how tough of a throw it was, and how easy he made it look was awesome. Honestly, like when I saw the guy rounding second base, in my head I was saying, ‘Eat it, eat it, eat it,’ but you've got to trust Brewer's arm, and he let it show. So it was a huge moment, a huge momentum swing.
“Yeah, I owe him dinner or something.”
Martin is fast. Brewer knew that and after consulting his play chart, he knew what he was going to do.
““I love doing that,” Brewer said of throwing out a player. “I’d rather do that than hit a home run. It’s just the feeling. You let that go out of your hand, and you’re like, ‘Yes. Perfect.’ I knew as soon as I threw it. I knew before the play was going to happen. I looked at my card, I said, all right, he’s a green runner, he’s fast, he’s going to go to third if the ball is hit to me on the ground.”
It was an enormous emotional boost for the Wolverines.
Michigan coach Erik Bakich called it a ”clutch throw.”
“Because they were mounting a comeback,” he said. “It’s a very good team. They have as explosive of a lineup as there is. To get that throw in that spot, that clutch throw, is no different than a clutch hit that scores a run, because that throw saved a run. That was a huge play to keep the momentum on our side.”
Brewer and Henry communicated after the play.
“Once that happened and then Tommy pointed at me and I said, ‘Tommy, it’s your time. Let’s do it,’” Brewer said. “He did the whole game, and I had his back the whole time, and he had our back, so it was pretty cool.”
Bakich wouldn’t say for sure who will be the starting pitcher in Tuesday night’s game, but it’s possible Jeff Criswell, who came in to make the final pitches in Game 1 will be on the mound.
“He could, yeah,” Bakich said. “I've got to talk to the coaches. He threw nine pitches (Monday), so that's what he did against UCLA (in the Super Regional). He pitched an inning and started the next day, so he's certainly capable. We could go Criswell or we could do a committee type of thing.
“It'll either be a righty or a lefty. We'll let you know.”
Criswell said he wants to start.
“Of course,” Criswell said. “Of course I do.”
There was a loud contingent of Michigan fans at TD Ameritrade for the opener of the championship series, continuing the considerable support the team has received this postseason. After the Super Regional at UCLA, Bakich joked there were more Michigan fans at those games than at Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor.
“To see the Michigan fans come out the way they have and support our team through this postseason run — I understand why they don’t come out to Ray Fisher. Sometimes … my wife doesn’t want to come in February or March, I get it.”
Bakich said a number of former Michigan baseball players have made the trip to Omaha.
“For our players, one of the first players we set out to achieve was to add as much value to our storied program that we possibly could,” Bakich said. “Now, to see many members of our program, of our storied program’s history come out and support us, that’s a dream come true, as well.”
Michigan vs. Vanderbilt
Michigan leads 1-0
What: Game 2 of best-of-three College World Series championship.
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m. Game 3, if necessary, would be Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Where: TD Ameritrade Park, Omaha, Neb.
TV: All games on ESPN.