ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Teams from the Midwest don't usually make the College World Series, but the Michigan baseball team wasn't content with simply making the cut.
The Wolverines shut out Florida State, 2-0, on Monday to pull within one game of the national championship series. It was the latest masterpiece from Eric Bakich's team, which already won the regional hosted by defending national champion Oregon State, knocked off the No. 1 team in the country twice on its home field and defeated CWS regular Texas Tech in the first round.
For a team that barely got into the NCAA Tournament, Michigan has certainly had to earn its way to this spot. Now, one of the last four teams into the field is guaranteed to be one of the last four standing.
Tommy Henry led the charge for Michigan against Florida State, firing a complete game shutout, striking out 10 Seminoles and allowing just three hits. Only five batters reached against Henry all game.
Michigan wasted no time attacking Seminoles starter C.J. Van Eyk. Jesse Franklin took the second pitch of the game and crushed it 415 feet to right field for what would end up being the winning run.
The only other run came in the top of the fifth, when Detroit Tigers draft pick Jimmy Kerr hit a clutch two-out single to score Jordan Nwogu and knock Van Eyk out of the game.
Florida State's only true scoring chances came in the first and seventh innings. Mike Salvatore led off the bottom of the first inning with a double against Henry, but a flyout, a strikeout and a flyout ended the threat.
Matheu Nelson's double in the seventh inning came with two outs, and Henry quickly carved up the next batter on four pitches to get out of the jam.
The other three Seminole base runners reached on two hit by pitches and an infield single, so Henry was in control throughout the contest. He finished with an even 100 pitches, 71 for strikes.
Since the Wolverines last played in the College World Series in 1984, only one Big Ten team has made the trip to Omaha. This is only the ninth time ever a Big Ten school has started 2-0 in the CWS.
Michigan was an afterthought when it sneaked into the tournament and made the trip to Corvallis as a No. 3 seed. But it looked like the best team in that regional, looked better than No. 1 UCLA for three games and has controlled each of its first two games in Omaha.
Now Bakich has the luxury to see which team will earn a rematch with a trip to the championship series on the line. Texas Tech eliminated Arkansas to earn a game against Florida State on Wednesday. The winner will get another shot at Michigan on Friday afternoon.
The team that survives has to beat Michigan twice to advance, and the Wolverines should have at least two of their three elite starting pitchers -- Karl Kauffmann and Jeff Criswell -- available, and it wouldn't be a shock to see Henry make an appearance, if necessary.
Michigan is doing everything a well-coached team should: taking the extra base, getting timely hits, getting ahead in counts. Bakich has done a phenomenal job with the program, and now it's in position to play for the national championship.
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