OMAHA, Neb. – Michigan utilized a three-run third inning Saturday afternoon to top No. 8 Texas Tech, 5-3, in the College World Series opener for both teams at TD Ameritrade Park.
The loss moves the Red Raiders (44-19) to an elimination game Monday afternoon against the loser of tonight’s Arkansas and Florida State opener. Michigan (47-20) will face the winner of that game at 6 p.m. Monday evening.
All three of Michigan’s runs in the third came with two outs as Jimmy Kerr lined a two-run triple down the right field line and Blake Nelson knocked a RBI single into left field. The big inning built a 4-0 lead for the Wolverines after a Jordan Brewer sacrifice fly in the opening frame.
Brian Klein responded in the bottom half of the third, though, as he lifted a 2-2 pitch into the stands in right field for a two-run blast. The home run was Klein’s second of the season and marked only the second for a Red Raider in four appearances now at the College World Series.
Dating back to the Super Regional round, Klein’s home run marked the seventh-straight occurrence where the Red Raiders answered a two or more run inning by its opponent with at least a run of their own in the next time at the plate.
Klein, who joined his first-base coach Eric Gutierrez as the only Red Raiders to homer in Omaha, added a one-out single for the Red Raiders in the first as part of a 2-for-5 day. He was joined with a multi-hit game by Braxton Fulford, who was 2-for-4 on the afternoon.
Tech cut into Michigan’s lead again in the sixth off a Dru Baker RBI ground out up the middle that scored Josh Jung. Jung previously singled to start the inning, which was followed by a double down the left field line from Cameron Warren, setting up Tech for what appeared to be a big inning.
Warren was stranded on third to end the frame, however, preventing Tech from possibly tying the game after placing two runners in scoring position with no outs. Tech also spoiled scoring opportunities following a Fulford one-out double in the fifth and an Easton Murrell pinch-hit single to start the seventh.
Michigan starter Karl Kauffmann (11-6) earned the win in a strong performance for the Wolverines as he surrendered three runs off eight hits with three strikeouts over seven complete innings. Jeff Criswell followed with two shutout innings of relief for his second save of the season, escaping a potential two-out rally in the ninth as Tech stranded the tying run on first base.
Micah Dallas (7-1) collected his first loss of the season in what was his shortest start of a stellar freshman campaign. Connor Queen relieved Dallas to start the fourth after he gave up four runs (three earned) off six hits and two strikeouts.
Queen was one of four relievers for a Tech bullpen that limited Michigan to only an unearned run in the seventh and two hits over the final six innings. Queen went two full innings followed by 1.2 from John McMillon, 1.1 from Dane Haveman and the ninth by Taylor Floyd.
First pitch between Tech and either Arkansas and Florida State is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday afternoon with television coverage provided on ESPN.