College World Series 2019: Michigan first Big Ten team in 50-plus years to reach finals | Sporting News

Cinderella Michigan keeps rolling in the College World Series.

The Wolverines, one of the last four teams to make this year’s NCAA Baseball Tournament, clinched a spot the championship finals Friday with a 15-3 victory over Texas Tech in Omaha, Neb. They will face Vanderbilt or Louisville in a best-of-three series beginning Monday.

UM is the first Big Ten school to make a College World Series final since Ohio State in 1966. The Buckeyes won the championship that year.

Michigan (48-20) began the day in the driver’s seat. It needed to beat the Red Raiders just once to reach the finals, while Texas Tech needed to beat Michigan on Friday and Saturday in the double-elimination format. The Wolverines fell behind 3-2 in the top of the second inning but then took the lead in the bottom half and never looked back. They scored two runs in each of the first three innings and then blew the game open with five runs in the sixth.

First baseman Jimmy Kerr became the first Wolverine to hit two home runs in a College World Series game, while center fielder Jesse Franklin added three hits and four RBIs.

MORE: Full College World Series schedule

Formidable starting pitching by Tommy Henry and Karl Kauffmann has been key to the team’s dominance since the beginning of regional play. The duo has allowed 13 earned runs in 53 1/3 innings (2.13 ERA), with Kauffmann allowing three over six innings Friday to earn the win. Henry (Diamondbacks) and Kauffmann (Rockies) were selected 74th and 77th overall, respectively, in the 2019 MLB Draft.

Henry, Kauffmann and reliever Jeff Criswell have been the only three pitchers used by Michigan during the College World Series. Criswell worked the final three innings Friday for the save.

BENDER: Michigan puts Big Ten baseball on the map in Omaha

Michigan’s unexpected run began with winning a regional hosted by defending champion Oregon State. The Wolverines then took down No. 1 overall seed UCLA in the super regionals. They are 3-0 in Omaha have lost just twice in the NCAA Tournament.

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