CWS Title Series: Game Two In PicturesCollege World Series
OMAHA, Neb. — Okay, I’m working on a theory here.
I was telling Phil Stanton of College Baseball Insider that I think Erik Bakich and the Michigan coaching staff was executing a little bit of gamesmanship today in game two. Now hear me out, they maybe even *sort of* expected this loss tonight. I mean, they WERE going up against freshman wunderkind Kumar Rocker. He of the 19K-zero hit variety vs. Duke in the Super Regional. So why burn out a more valuable arm in game two?
What I men by that is, instead of starting Jeff Criswell against Mr. Rocker on the mound, the Wolverines decided to say “No, we’re going to throw a patchwork of pitchers in game two and save Criswell for relief duties for Karl Kauffman in game three. If we happen to get an otherworldly performance from our bull penners we roll out there in game two and we pull off a stunner, so be it. Otherwise, see you in game three.”
And though they didn’t pull off the stunner, their plan was executed to the hilt. Sure enough, Kumar Rocker was dominant on the mound once again and the Michiganders couldn’t quite pull off a transcendent performance on the mound, losing a 4-1 game, sending the championship series to a third and deciding game on Wednesday night.
As expected, the Commodores won and now will have to face off with the Michigan ace (Kauffman) on four days’ rest and then contend with Criswell, who has two saves already in Omaha. Thursday sets up well for the Maize & Blue.
But don’t sell the Commodores short. They will counter with Mason Hickman on the bump. All he has done is go 8-0 on the year with a 2.08 ERA and a miserly .183 opponents batting average. Freakin’ stout, right? Man alive. And if you’re wondering, yes, those are better numbers than Rocker has put up this season.
So who has the advantage going into Wednesday night? Maybe Michigan? Or does that re-awoken batting order of Vandy get the better of Kauffman and Criswell on short rest? Either way, it’s going to be a game three for the ages.
Almost makes you wish the championship series was a best-of-seven. Man, would these pitching staffs get taxed by that or what?
Some additional images from tonight’s second game of the championship series.