OMAHA, NE—Day one of the 2019 College World Series is in the books, and the fans in Omaha were treated to pair of upsets to open the tournament.
Game 1 pitted the 8th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders against the surprise team of the tournament: the Michigan Wolverines.
Michigan got it started early as Jordan Nwogu singled to leadoff the ballgame. He then advanced around the bases on a passed ball, a groundball, and a sacrifice fly to get Michigan out to a quick 1-0 lead.
In the third inning, Michigan managed to plate three runs despite having two outs and nobody on base. Jesse Franklin walked to get it started, then a Jordan Brewer single had two men on for Jimmy Kerr, who hit a rocket triple to score two runs. Blake Nelson then knocked in Kerr, and Michigan pulled out to a 4-0 lead.
Texas Tech answered back in the bottom of the 3rd, however, as Brian Klein hit just his second home run of the year, a 2-run shot to right field to cut the deficit in half at 4-2.
Following that home run, it became a game of missed opportunities for the Red Raiders. In the 5th, Braxton Fulford doubled with one out, and it seemed they had something brewing. Dylan Neuse then hit a soft liner over second base, but a sensational diving catch by Michigan second baseman Ako Thomas saved a run to keep it 4-2.
In the 6th, the Red Raiders had runners at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out after a Jung single and Warren double. But, again, Texas Tech wasn’t able to put up a crooked number as they were only able to plate one run to make it 4-3.
“We lined out a few times and they got out of jams,” Jung said. “When they got the clutch hits, we weren’t getting those clutch hits.”
Michigan added an insurance run in the 7th to make it 5-3 and then shut down the Red Raiders from there. After seven very solid innings from Karl Kauffman (7 IP 8 H 3 ER 3 K), Jeff Criswell (2 IP 1 H 0 ER 4 K) came in and locked it down for the 2-inning save.
“Our guys did a great job,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “They’re loose, they’re confident and they’re playing aggressive.”
Game 2 saw last year’s runner-up, the No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks, take on the Mike Martin-led Florida State Seminoles.
The game was a bona fide pitching duel as Razorback Isaiah Campbell and Seminole Drew Parrish went toe-to-toe, each not allowing a run on the night.
However, both teams had several chances to score. In the 3rd, the Razorbacks had runners on 2nd and 3rd with just one out. Designated hitter Matt Goodheart hit a rope right to FSU second baseman Nander De Sedas who caught the ball out of the air and quickly fired it to third to double off the runner and end the frame.
In the 6th, Arkansas had runners on first and third with two gone with their big hitter Heston Kjerstad at the dish. He hit a solid grounder back up the middle, but Parrish managed to knock it down with his bare hand and get the out at first, keeping the game at 0-0.
That trend continued in the 8th inning as Christian Franklin led off the inning with a double to put Arkansas in business. But with a man on third and just one out, Drew Parrish came up with two stone cold strikeouts, sending the game to its final frame with no runs scored.
“Drew Parrish was really good,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “His changeup was really effective, and he got tougher as runners got on.”
The 9th inning would finally see the game’s first and only run as the Razorback bullpen couldn’t keep the Seminoles off the board after Isaiah Campbell dazzled for seven shutout innings. After a J.C. Flowers hit-by-pitch and a fielder’s choice from Carter Smith, Matheu Nelson bunted the runners over. This allowed Nander De Sedas to hit a sacrifice fly to right to score the sole run of the game.
Shane Drohan came in and locked down the save in relief of Drew Parrish, who was sensational going eight shutout innings with nine strikeouts, to seal the 1-0 win for the Seminoles.
“Tonight’s the way you hope your team can play every night,” Martin said.
Arkansas will now face Texas Tech Monday at 1 p.m. in an elimination game while Florida State and Michigan will battle for a 2-0 start to the CWS at 6 p.m.
Day two will begin tomorrow afternoon with No. 2 Vanderbilt vs No. 7 Louisville at 1 p.m. followed by No. 6 Mississippi State vs Auburn at 6:30 p.m.