Michigan Shocks UCLA Baseball with Win
UCLA Was Ranked #1 in the Nation
June 13, 2019
The Detroit Tigers won the World Series in 1984, led by local star Kirk Gibson, the MVP in the 1984 World Series. That was the last time the Tigers won a world championship. That same year, the Michigan Wolverines baseball team went to the College World Series, led by future Hall of Famer Barry Larkin. That was the last trip to the college world series for Michigan baseball...until now.
In a shocking upset, Michigan came to Los Angeles and defeated the top seed in the NCAA baseball tournament, the UCLA Bruins, 4-2. The win clinched the three game weekend series for the Wolverines and gave them their first CWS bid since 1984. The Bruins were the No. 1-ranked team in the nation for 11 consecutive weeks heading into the postseason.
They won the Pac-12 title with a record of 24-5 and came into the tournament with an overall record of 47-8. They had the top ERA in college baseball and led the nation in shutouts. A record thirteen players from the UCLA team were selected in the recent 2019 MLB draft.
The Bruins had not lost a three game weekend series the whole season. They were the only team in the nation to accomplish that feat. They had not lost a weekday game. After losing their home opener in the NCAA regionals to LMU, the Bruins came back to beat Baylor and LMU twice to win the regional.
With the Super Regional being played in the friendly confines of Jackie Robinson Stadium in Westwood, the Bruins were favored to return to the CWS. Unfortunately for the Bruins, Michigan had other plans.
Michigan won the opener on Friday Night behind the pitching of Karl Kaufmann, who held the Bruins scoreless for eight innings. The Bruins had just one hit through the first eight innings. Michigan built a 3-0 lead going into the ninth inning, the key hit being a two-run single in the third inning by outfielder Jesse Franklin.
UCLA rallied in the 9th inning to score two runs and had runners on first and third with one out, but Wolverine relief pitcher Jeff Criswell came in and got a pop up and strikeout to end the game.
Game two was Saturday night and the Bruins again struggled, trailing 3-1 after two innings, before rallying with a run in the fifth and tying the game in the top of the eighth inning on Michael Toglia's home run. From that point, the Bruins relied on the pitching of closer Holden Powell, who worked a career high five innings and allowed a run on two hits with five strikeouts.
The Bruins took the lead in the top of the ninth on a dropped fly ball, but Michigan came back to tie it in the bottom of the ninth on a sacrifice fly. Powell kept UCLA in the game in extra innings and UCLA finally scored in the 12th inning. Kevin Kendall's clutch double in the 12th inning scored Jake Moberg with the go-ahead run. Moberg had reached base on another Michigan error, their fifth in the last four innings.
The winner-take-all Game 3 on Sunday Night started off well for UCLA, as the Bruins took an early 2-1 lead after four innings, powered by a Jake Pries 2nd inning home run and a 3rd inning lead-off triple from Garrett Mitchell, who scored on a Ryan Kreidler groundout.
Michigan took the lead for good in the top of the 5th inning on a two-run single from Ako Thomas. From that point, the Michigan pitching combination of left-hander Tommy Henry and Ben Keizer shut the Bruins offense down and that was the game.
The Bruins had scored only nine runs in the three-game series, tying a season low for a series. UCLA head coach John Savage did not make excuses, stating: "First off, I'd like to congratulate Michigan. They did a heck of a job this weekend, have to give them credit."
"It was a great series, as good of a Super Regional as there was out there. Tough one. This is an historic team, really. The team that won the most games in the history of UCLA. They hadn't lost a series all season long. I've never really heard of that. This one's a very tough one to take. We win as a team, and we lose as a team."
The Bruins did have an historic season, ending up with a record 52 wins for the season. But at the end, there was no getting around the fact that the loss to Michigan was very disappointing. Coach Savage seemed to sum it up best: "We've had some really good teams. Some have gone to Omaha; some haven't gone to Omaha. This is our best team that hasn't."