The score does say it all. Vanderbilt was just a bit better today and they eliminated Michigan from the NCAA Tournament with a 5-4 triumph. Outstanding Commodore 3B Pedro Alvarez and RF Ryan Davis each went yard against the Wolverines for the second straight game.
Doug Pickens and Nate Recknagel countered with some yard work of their own, but it wasn't quite enough. Chris Fetter did start for Michigan and took the loss. The win went the Nick Christiani
Again today, Michigan did have opportunities to prevail against Vandy, but just couldn't close the deal. For the second straight year, Michigan's season ends in the Atlanta Regional after going 1-2. I've said this before, and I'll say it quite a bit more, but Big Ten teams have to start advancing in the tournament.
This Michigan side certainly had the right mind set--that just being in the field wasn't enough. Unfortunately, that didn't translate into wins. In spite of their elimination, you cannot convince me that Michigan is significantly worse than Vanderbilt. Yes, the SEC team prevailed, but it was hardly a beatdown.
It's not going to stop all the typical fan banter, or common belief, that the north cannot compete with the traditional southern/western powers. I hope that with the continuing commitment to baseball by many snowbelt programs that college baseball's playing field might be getting a bit more balanced.
Hopefully, next season more than one Big Ten team gets into The Dance, they can host a regional and advance. (I'm not asking for much, am I?)
The win gives the Commodores a second shot at host Georgia Tech in the championship of the Atlanta Regional. The loss not only ends the year for Michigan, but concludes play for all the representatives of the Big Ten Conference.
It's been another fun year of baseball in the Big Ten. From Northwestern's improbable run for a conference crown to the emergence of freshmen throughout the conference to Michigan's double championships and tournament appearance, it's been an enjoyable, unpredictable season.
This year, I got to meet some of those directly involved with the baseball programs at Big Ten universities, met some great fans and got to attend the entire Big Ten Tournament. I hope to do more of the same in 2007.
So, what am I going to do here next? I think I'll save that for my next post.