Vandy’s Kumar Rocker did it again, shutting down Meechigan to force a national championship showdown (would have been nice to have HIM as our Saturday night starter, since he lived in Fayetteville for 4+ years as a preschooler). Title game Wednesday night. We know something about that, don’t we?
Michigan was a 3 seed on merit, but their pitching staff got hot and now they’re in the last game of the season. Remember, in 2008 Fresno State was a FOUR seed and won the whole. Damn. Thing. It’s what happens in June, and the Wolverines are riding the wave. We’ll see if it reaches shore or crashes against the Commodores’ warship (bad ocean joke, I know).
And yes, basketball is what happens in March. Mike Anderson couldn’t win enough games in March and that’s why he’s in Queens instead of Fayetteville. Porter Moser is a fairly mediocre coach, but his Loyola team got hot, reached the FF and now he’s mentioned for jobs that he can’t handle. Really doesn’t matter what you do in December, or February for that matter, as long as you get in the tournament and then win there. Theoretically you could be 0-28, win your conference tournament and then seven games in the Dance (0-28 would be a guaranteed ticket to Dayton for the First Four) and win the national championship at something like 10-28.
I suspect Vandy will win tonight. UM’s pitching has been good, but now they’re down to the third group. A Mon-Wed series (after playing last Friday) is more taxing on the staff than the first 3 games were: Sat-Mon-Friday. I bet Vandy’s got more pitching depth & better hitting. I’d bet on Vandy tonight.
It’s worth noting that Michigan is throwing its No. 1 pitcher tonight, Karl Kauffman. He has been almost as good as Tommy Henry has been this postseason, with a 4-0 record and 2.40 ERA. He was drafted with the pick after Isaiah Campbell earlier this month.
I think Michigan will have all arms on deck, even Henry for an inning or two if needed.
Was unaware UM could start it’s #1 pitcher tonight. I only got home in time to see the beginning of the 8th inning when it was 7-2 Vandy. So whoever UM pitched, it’s pretty clear Vandy got to them. It’s 8-2 with UM batting with 1 out in the 9th as I type this, so there’s no doubt Vandy will win it all.
Since we didn’t do it, I’m glad Vandy did. I didn’t really want to see MSU or Auburn, but I like an SEC team winning it all. I understand Vandy has some strange scholarship advantages in baseball, but I still rather they win than anyone but us.
Minus a solo home run, Kauffman pitched well through eight outs and looked to be on his way to a strong outing. He had Vandy with nobody on and two outs in the third and an ideal pitch count in the high 20s, then fell apart against the heart of the lineup. He had a 1-0 pitch to JJ Bleday that could have gone either way, but was called a ball and the at-bat changed. He walked Bleday in four pitches and Vanderbilt’s next four batters reached. Vandy scored on a bases-loaded walk on a 3-2 pitch, then scored two more with an RBI hit on the next pitch. That sequence crushed Michigan. The score was only 4-1, but that deficit felt a lot bigger because of how the runs were scored and because of how Mason Hickman was pitching for the Commodores. I pretty much felt at that point like the game was over.