Today began with the resumption of last night's rain delayed contest between Michigan and Kentucky. As you may recall, UM led 5-1 when the thunder rolled in. The Wolverines increased last night's lead to 7-1 before a UK mounted a comeback. Kentucky All-America Sawyer Carroll homered to lead a four-run eighth inning to draw UK within two runs. However, Michael Powers allowed no more Wildcats tallies and Michigan won, 7-5.
Although he didn't toss a pitch today, Zach Putnam's five innings of work on Friday got him the win. Powers earned his eighth save. Jason Christian and Leif Mahler both had a pair of RBI. Tyler Howe drove in two for UK.
The win elevated Michigan into the winner's bracket and a seven o'clock date with Arizona. Kentucky fell into the loser's bracket and would face an elimination game against Eastern Michigan.
While Michigan may have won the battle, they lost a solider. Nate Recknagel, the Big Ten's Player of the Year, injured an elbow and is out for the remainder of Michigan's season.
EMU had leads of 1-0 and 3-2, but UK matched every Eagles run with more of their own and prevailed, 4-3. Carroll homered again, had two hits, two runs scored and drove in two to pace Kentucky's offense. Greg Dombrowski posted the win and Andrew Albers recorded the save. Eagles' 1B Steve Bradshaw had a pair of hits and two RBI.
EMU battled hard both days, but could never get themselves over the top and now find their season over. UK, however, avoided elimination and now get to play another elimination game on Sunday afternoon.
The final game on Saturday saw the top two seeds in the Ann Arbor Regional square off. #1 Arizona jumped out to a 3-0 first inning lead over #2 Michigan. The Wildcats plated another run in the third and led 4-0 before Michigan's offense arrived.
The host Wolverines plated single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but got no closer. Coach Lopez called on his superior bullpen and the Big Three -- Daniel Schlereth, Ryan Perry and Jason Stoffel -- shut the door. Arizona won, 4-3.
Wildcats' starter David Coulon worked the first five innings and improved to 8-3. Stoffel posted his 12th save. C.J. Ziegler and Brad Glenn both had two hits and a RBI for UA.
Michigan's Ryan LaMarre collected three hits, two runs scored and a RBI. Zach Putnam homered and Christian tripled in another. UM's All-America candidate Chris Fetter pitched the full eight innings and struck out seven.
Arizona's triumph pushes them to within one win of a regional championship. UA now awaits the winner of Sunday's Michigan and Kentucky rematch. The winner will advance to play the Wildcats tomorrow night. The loser of tomorrow's two o'clock game is eliminated.
If Arizona wins Sunday night's contest, they go to the Super Regionals. If the UM/UK winner can hold off Arizona Sunday evening, then we will have a Monday night title game.
A few bonus notes:
* The scoreboard went from intermittent in the UK/EMU game to completely out-of-order during the Arizona vs. Michigan game. Technical difficulties are always possible, but it looks bad when you just coughed up all that money to renovate the yard.
* Rumor has it UK's pitching staff is being held together with duct tape. Many are nursing injuries.
* I'm still confused as to why nobody televised these games. I'm left to assume there isn't much interest in this regional in Tucson or Lexington, either.
* I view both Kentucky and Michigan as parallel programs. Both have coaches that have raised dormant programs and have spent money upgrading facilities. Both have jumped into the national spotlight in the last few seasons. The next step, the most difficult one, is becoming consistent national powers.
* Derek VanBuskirk moved to firstbase in Recknagel's absence.