CWS Title Series: Game Two In Pictures

College 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.” 

Freshman Isaiah Paige got the start for the Maize & Blue and did an admirable job, going four innings and giving up just three hits and zero earned runs.

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. 

Peek-a-boo! Kumar Rocker was “as advertised” according to Michigan head coach Erik Bakich, pitching into the seventh inning and only giving up three hits and one run.

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.  


No wonder the Wolverines lost Tuesday night’s game, look how dead they looked in the pregame.


Riley Bertram shows how loose the Michigan dug out was going into Monday night’s first game of three.


Whether it’s on a football helmet, a hockey goalie mask or a catcher’s mask, there is nothing more cooler than the Michigan winged helmet.


Unfortunately UM leadoff man Jordan Nwogu ended his night early with a quad strain on a routine groundout in the third inning.


Harrison Ray got the Vandy scoring started when he scooted home after an Austin Martin groundout in the fifth inning.


Stephen Scott was the second run of the sixth inning to come across via a wild pitch, giving the Commodores a commanding 3-0 lead at the time.


Philip Clarke takes a huge cut and knocks the ball out of the park to give the Commodores a commanding 4-0 lead in the 7th inning.


Seven-hole hitter Jack Blomgren led a sparse Michigan offense gong 2-for-4 at the dish in game two.


Tyler Brown came on to close down the final 2.2 innings with one-hit work. Brown ended up throwing 40 pitches but VU head coach Tim Corbin said he’d still be available if necessary in game three on Wednesday night.


The Commodores tip their caps to their fans after the game two win.


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