The Texas Tech baseball team came up short in their first game of the 2019 College World Series, losing, 5-3, to Michigan on Saturday at TD Ameritrade Park in front of 24,148 fans.
"Congratulations to Michigan, I thought they played better than us in all phases of the game," head coach Tim Tadlock said. "I thought (Karl) Kauffmann was brilliant. I thought their lineup was very competitive. I thought they played great defense. I mean, it really looked like a team that's playing at the top of their game, which I'm sure they needed to be doing and have been doing for a couple weeks now, and you can see how they arrived here at this point. Kauffmann was tough. He's a guy that is mixing in fastball counts some and just did a really good job."
With the loss, the Red Raiders have posted a 44-19 overall record while going 4-5 in games hosted at neutral ballparks.
The Wolverines opened the game with a leadoff single by Jordan Nwogu in the first inning. A passed ball then moved Nwogu to second and he made his way to third on a sacrifice hit in the infield with one out in the inning. Jordan Brewer sent Nwogu home for the first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to right field, giving Michigan a 1-0 lead with the unearned run.
Tech tried to even the score in the bottom of the first inning as the first four Red Raiders had no swings for misses but a ground out, fly out and foul out sent the Tech back to the field for the second inning.
After a scoreless second inning by both teams, the Red Raiders earned two quick outs with a double play initiated by junior Brian Klein. Starting pitcher Freshman RHP Micah Dallas then walked Jesse Franklin and gave up a single to Brewer, putting two Wolverines on base. Jimmy Kerr then hit a two-RBI triple down the right-field line to grow Michigan’s lead, 3-0. Kerr made his way home for the 4-0 lead after a single was hit to left field by Blake Nelson for the RBI.
"His stuff wasn't quite where it has been," Tadlock said. "I want to say the fastball was a tick probably -- didn't have his best stuff. He's been a guy that when he doesn't have that, he's been able to pitch through some things. Give Michigan credit for that. They hit everything that he threw up there that was in the middle of the plate. And so I don't want to take anything away from them."
Following the three-run inning from Michigan, sophomore Dylan Neuse put himself on base with a single to right field. Klein then sent Neuse home with a home run over the right-center wall, cutting Michigan’s lead, 4-2. The home run was Klein’s second of the season and eighth of his collegiate career.
Dallas’ time at the mound came to an end as junior RHP Connor Queen was sent in to relieve the freshman at the start of the fourth inning. Dallas pitched in 3.0 innings in his first appearance in Omaha, giving up six hits and four runs (three earned) while striking two batters out.
"We wouldn't be here without Micah Dallas," Tadlock said. "There's nobody that feels worse than Micah right now. He takes it upon his shoulders to go out and pitch into the sixth or seventh inning every time, and he's done that quite a bit. He just had a bad day, and Michigan had a really good day."
Queen put two Wolverines on base in both the fourth and fifth inning but was able to pitch himself out of it, keeping the Wolverines scoreless in his time at the mound. Junior RHP John McMillon started the sixth inning at the mound for Red Raiders, relieving Queen.
The Red Raiders started the bottom of the sixth inning with runners on second and third as junior Josh Jung singled with an infield hit and senior Cameron Warren doubled down the left-field line. Freshman Dru Baker sent Jung home with a hit to second base, making it a one-run game, 4-3.
In the seventh inning, McMillon walked Franklin. With Brewer up to bat, Franklin tried to steal second but Brewer fell into sophomore Braxton Fulford’s legs. The umpire called batter’s interference, sending Franklin back to first. Franklin took second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a sacrifice fly to the outfield. With two outs, Jung fielded a grounder and tried to make the final out at first but made a throwing error, resulting in Franklin scoring. The run grew Michigan’s lead, 5-3.
"It's a play we've seen Josh (Jung) make at third and short," Tadlock said regarding Jung's error. "We've actually bragged about it a little bit. Maybe we need to quit doing that. It's also a play when he's throwing it bad where Cam (Warren) has picked him up. Between those two things happening on that play, I'd bet the house the next time either one happens, we get an out, either Cam is going to pick it or Josh is going to hit him in the chest, one or the other. Just one of those deals. It does give them a little bit of separation. But we had opportunities. I mean, we had a lot of pitches to hit. I mean, even in the ninth we had pitches to hit."
Junior RHP Taylor Floyd took the mound in the ninth inning for the Red Raiders. After missing a grounder, Warren redeemed himself after earning an unassisted out at first and throwing a runner out at second for the double play. Sophomore Kurt Wilson then earned the final out of the top of the inning with a catch in left field.
In Tech's last chance to come back from the two-run deficit, the Red Raiders were unable to come back as the Wolverines ended the game with two strikeouts and a ground out.
"We got have better at-bats than we did," Warren said. "We've got to battle more. I mean, we did hit a lot of balls hard today. We hit it right at them some. But we've just got to grind and we've got to come back ready to play in two days."
The 5-3 loss sent the Red Raiders to the loser's bracket of the College World Series where they will play the loser of Arkansas and Florida State game on Monday at 1 p.m.