Michigan baseball falls to Vanderbilt, setting up decisive Game 3 for national championship

Wolverines can clinch title with win Wednesday

ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The Michigan baseball team dropped its first game of the College World Series on Tuesday, falling to No. 2 Vanderbilt 4-1 in Game 2 of the championship series.

The Wolverines, who started the CWS with four straight victories and had a chance to win the national title Tuesday, couldn't figure out dominant freshman pitcher Kumar Rocker.

Rocker pitched 6.1 innings, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks while striking out 11 batters. He threw 104 pitches.

Michigan had back-to-back scoring opportunities against Rocker early in the game, but failed to capitalize, stranding runners at second and third in the third and fourth innings.

Pitcher Kumar Rocker #80 of the Vanderbilt Commodores delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Michigan Wolverines during game two of the College World Series Championship Series on June 25, 2019, at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha,…

Vandy closer Tyler Brown took over with one out in the seventh and allowed Rocker's inherited runner to score on an Ako Thomas single.

Michigan brought the tying run to the plate that inning, but Jordan Brewer struck out looking at a fastball to strand a pair of runners.

Brown eventually slammed the door, getting the final eight outs without any trouble.

Redshirt freshman Isaiah Paige pitched very well after being named the starter. He tossed four scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out five.

Paige allowed a leadoff single in the top of the fifth to end his night. That runner moved to third base on a ground ball up the middle that looked like a potential double play but skipped under the glove of reliable shortstop Jack Blomgren.

The run scored two batters later on a soft ground ball to third base.

Vanderbilt scored two more runs in the sixth inning on a pair of wild pitches as the game started to slip away from the Wolverines.

It was the first time Michigan had to use its bullpen in the CWS after sticking with Tommy Henry, Karl Kauffmann and Jeff Criswell throughout the first four games. Perhaps the long layoff had an effect on those relievers, as Vanderbilt capitalized on their wildness.

Philip Clarke homered in the seventh to put the Commodores up 4-0, and with Rocker dominating on the mound, that was more than enough.

Now, the two teams will return to the diamond at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday for a winner-take-all Game 3. Michigan should have Criswell and Kauffmann available in some capacity after they went unused Tuesday.

Michigan has lost twice in the NCAA Tournament, and both times, the Wolverines bounced back to beat the same team the following day -- once against No. 22 Creighton in the Corvallis Regional and once against No. 1 UCLA in the Super Regional.

The Wolverines might be without reliable leadoff hitter Jordan Nwogu, who injured himself trying to run out a ground ball in the third inning. Nwogu, the team's designated hitter, was removed from the game without putting any weight on the injured side of his body.

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