Freshman Isaiah Paige to start for Michigan baseball in Game 2 of championship series
Michigan continues series against Vanderbilt in College World Series final
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Redshirt freshman Isaiah Paige will start for Michigan baseball Tuesday in Game 2 of the national championship series against Vanderbilt.
Paige, a right-hander, hasn't pitched since June 8, a Michigan loss to No. 1 UCLA in the second game of the Super Regional. The Wolverines have only used three pitchers -- starters Tommy Henry, Karl Kauffmann and Jeff Criswell -- in the first four games of the College World Series.
After redshirting in 2018, Paige had a strong first season for Michigan, posting a 2.98 ERA in 48.1 innings. He only struck out 28 batters this season, but made up for it with only four walks and 40 hits.
Paige pitched twice against No. 22 Creighton in the Corvallis Regional. In three NCAA Tournament games, he's allowed four earned runs on five hits and four walks in 5.1 innings, striking out three batters.
Tuesday will be a difficult test for Paige, as he faces a Vanderbilt lineup that includes four 2019 MLB draft picks and others who will be drafted in the future.
Leadoff hitter Austin Martin has an on-base percentage around .500. J.J. Bleday was the No. 4 overall pick in the draft and Ethan Paul, Philip Clarke and Stephen Scott were also drafted. With Pat DeMarco batting fifth, the top six hitters for Vanderbilt make up as formidable a lineup as there is in the country.
Freshman star Kumar Rocker, also right-handed, will start for Vanderbilt. He's allowed just two runs while striking out 33 batters in 21.2 innings this month and also threw a no-hitter against Duke in the NCAA Tournament.
After Paige, head coach Erik Bakich has plenty of options in his bullpen. None of his relief pitchers have appeared in a game since June 9, and Criswell threw only nine pitches to close Monday's contest.
Henry will be unavailable after throwing 110 pitches Monday. Bakich would probably prefer not to use Kauffmann, who threw 100 pitches Friday against No. 8 Texas Tech.
If Vanderbilt wins Tuesday, Game 3 will determine the national champion. First pitch would be at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday.
Here's a look at the full lineups for Game 2.
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