The Vanderbilt Commodores defeated the Michigan Wolverines 4-1 on Tuesday night at the College World Series in Omaha, NE. Look inside for highlights, quotes, play by play and more.
Play by Play
Vanderbilt starters: 16/3b Martin; 51/rf Bleday; 10/ss Paul; 5/c
Clarke; 18/cf DeMarco; 19/lf Scott; 2/2b Ray; 20/dh Duvall; 22/1b
Infante; 80/p Rocker;
Michigan starters: 42/dh Nwogu; 7/cf Franklin; 22/rf Brewer; 15/1b
Kerr; 10/3b Nelson; 5/lf Bullock; 2/ss Blomgren; 0/c Donovan; 4/2b
Thomas; 25/p Paige;
Vanderbilt 1st – Martin struck out swinging (0-2 KFS). Bleday flied
out to cf (3-2 FBFFFBB). Paul struck out looking (2-2 FFBBK). 0
runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
Michigan 1st – Nwogu struck out swinging (1-2 KBSFFS). Franklin flied
out to lf (0-1 K). Brewer struck out swinging (0-2 FSS). 0 runs, 0
hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
Vanderbilt 2nd – Clarke flied out to rf (0-1 F). DeMarco struck out
swinging (1-2 BKSS). Scott reached on an error by 1b (1-1 FB). Ray
grounded out to ss (2-2 BFSB). 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 error, 1 LOB.
Michigan 2nd – Kerr struck out swinging (3-2 BBBKSS). Nelson struck
out swinging (0-2 KKS). Bullock struck out swinging (0-2 FKS). 0
runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
Vanderbilt 3rd – Duvall flied out to cf (0-0). Infante singled to
right field (3-2 BFBSB). Infante advanced to second on a wild
pitch. Martin grounded out to ss (1-0 B); Infante advanced to
third. Bleday flied out to lf (1-1 FB). 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1
L O B .
Michigan 3rd – Blomgren singled through the left side (1-1 KB).
Donovan grounded out to c, SAC, bunt (0-0); Blomgren advanced to
second. Thomas walked (3-2 BBKBKFB). Nwogu grounded out to 3b (1-1
SB); Thomas advanced to second; Blomgren advanced to third.
Franklin struck out swinging (0-2 KSS). 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2
L O B .
Vanderbilt 4th – Paul grounded out to 2b (1-0 B). Clarke singled to
right field (0-1 K). DeMarco struck out looking (1-2 BSSFK). Scott
struck out swinging (1-2 SBSS). 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Michigan 4th – Brewer flied out to rf (2-0 BB). Kerr struck out
swinging (2-2 KBBKS). Nelson reached on a fielding error by ss (2-2
BFKB). Nelson failed pickoff attempt. Nelson stole second. Bullock
walked (3-2 BBKKBB). Bullock stole second; Nelson stole third.
Blomgren grounded out to ss (3-2 FBBSB). 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 error, 2
L O B .
Vanderbilt 5th – Ray singled to left field (2-2 FSBB). Keizer to p
for Paige. Duvall reached on a fielding error by ss (0-0); Ray
advanced to third. Infante struck out swinging (3-2 BKBBSS). Martin
grounded out to 3b, RBI (1-2 KSB); Duvall advanced to second; Ray
scored, unearned. Bleday intentionally walked. Bleday advanced to
second on a passed ball; Duvall advanced to third on a passed ball.
Paul intentionally walked (1-0 B). Clarke grounded out to ss (3-1
BBKB). 1 run, 1 hit, 1 error, 3 LOB.
Michigan 5th – Donovan grounded out to 2b (2-2 BBFFF). Thomas struck
out looking (1-2 KSBK). Clementi pinch hit for Nwogu. Clementi
struck out looking (2-2 BBKFK). 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
Vanderbilt 6th – DeMarco singled to left field (0-0). Scott walked
(3-2 BBKBFB); DeMarco advanced to second. Ray out at first p to 2b,
SAC, bunt (0-0); Scott advanced to second; DeMarco advanced to
third. Weisenburger to p for Keizer. Duvall walked (3-2 BKBBKB);
Scott advanced to third on a wild pitch; DeMarco scored on a wild
pitch. Duvall advanced to second on a wild pitch; Scott scored on a
wild pitch. Infante walked (3-2 KBBBSB). Smith to p for
Weisenburger. Martin struck out swinging (2-2 KBBFS). Bleday struck
out swinging (3-2 BBFBKFS). 2 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 LOB.
Michigan 6th – Franklin reached on a fielding error by 2b (1-1 BK).
Out/safe call at first base reviewed; call stood as safe. Brewer
singled to left field (1-0 B); Franklin advanced to second. Kerr
struck out swinging (0-2 FFS). Nelson flied out to lf (0-0).
Bullock flied out to rf (2-1 BKB). 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 error, 2 LOB.
Vanderbilt 7th – Paul struck out swinging, out at first c to 1b (0-2
KSFS). Clarke homered to right field, RBI (2-2 BBFK). DeMarco
grounded out to 2b (3-1 KBBB). Scott doubled to left center (0-0).
Weiss to p for Smith. Ray flied out to cf (2-2 BSKFB). 1 run, 2
hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Michigan 7th – Blomgren singled to left field (2-2 KBKB). Blomgren
advanced to second on a balk. Donovan struck out swinging (1-2
SBFFFS). Brown to p for Rocker. Thomas singled through the left
side, RBI (3-2 KBFBFB); Blomgren scored. Clementi to dh. Clementi
struck out looking (1-2 FSBK). Franklin walked (3-1 SBBBB); Thomas
advanced to second. Brewer struck out looking (1-2 KBFK). 1 run, 2
hits, 0 errors, 2 LOB.
Vanderbilt 8th – Duvall flied out to cf (0-2 FS). Infante flied out
to rf (1-1 SB). Martin flied out to cf (2-0 BB). 0 runs, 0 hits, 0
errors, 0 LOB.
Michigan 8th – Kerr grounded out to 3b (0-1 F). Nelson flied out to
cf (2-1 BBF). Bullock lined out to 2b (0-0). 0 runs, 0 hits, 0
errors, 0 LOB.
Vanderbilt 9th – Cleveland to p for Weiss. Bleday grounded out to ss
(1-1 BS). Paul flied out to cf (3-2 BBBKFFF). Clarke struck out
looking (0-2 KSK). 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
Michigan 9th – Blomgren grounded out to 2b (0-1 K). Donovan popped up
to 3b (3-1 BFBB). Thomas grounded out to 3b (3-2 KBFBB). 0 runs, 0
hits, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
TIM CORBIN: Well, I just think it was a very protective
moment. We had the right guy on the mound. I was
asked a lot of questions about him prior to today, and
the thing that I knew that he would give us is compete.
There’s no doubt in my mind. I haven’t been around
him that long, but I know the fibers of the kid. I know
how he’s directed. I know how he thinks. I know how
he attacks, and I felt like we had a chance today with
him on the mound, as I do with all of them, but it was
just one of those situations that you’re asking a young
man to come into a situation that he has been in
before, and he did a very nice job, especially in the
third and fourth when it got a little bit tough. Second
and third, one out, second and third, two outs, and he
took off some good hitters. He got us deep into that
ballgame. Tyler, again, finished well for us.
Offense, it was tough to come by early. I thought we
swung the bat better late. Phil’s hit was certainly a
large one for us, just to spread the lead going into the
final inning. Played some pretty good defense. There
were some tough balls that we took care of, certainly
Harrison’s play there at the end, but we take it and
Q. Philip, as a guy who’s sat back there and
watched Kumar throughout the postseason, what
goes through your mind when you watch a guy
with stuff like that?
PHILIP CLARKE: Yeah, it’s pretty incredible, but I
would say the main thing is it’s comforting as a team to
have a freshman that can do what he does on a daily
basis, on a weekly basis. It gives us the energy we
need, especially on a day like today.
Q. Kumar, two out of the last three starts for you
have come with your team’s season on the line.
Did you approach those outings any different from
a mental standpoint just to go to a new, different
KUMAR ROCKER: No, the first one, whatever comes
with that and I’m worried about it, I just think about my
team and I think, yeah, they’re going to hit. They’ve got
me if I fail.
Q. Philip, we see sometimes that you’re really
emotional and Kumar is kind of a cool customer
and other times he’s pumping his fist. What type
of emotions does he have during the game and
what does that tell you about how he’s pitching?
PHILIP CLARKE: He’s emotional when he needs to be,
and at other times he’s not. I think that it just shows
how strong his mind is, and especially for a freshman
how mature he is. Sometimes I try to get him going,
and sometimes he’s already there.
Q. Kumar, to get out of those two innings with the
two guys in scoring position, what did it take to get
out of those, especially to throw the two sliders
against Franklin there the first time?
KUMAR ROCKER: I remember looking back my past
times at runners on third, I needed a good defense
behind me and I needed to make pitches, because the
past times I think I put that runner in every time with
two outs, so that was a big moment for me.
Q. Kumar, when Tyler got out of that seventh for
you, you were pretty quick out of the dugout to
congratulate him. What was that like seeing him
finish it off, and then what he did the next couple
KUMAR ROCKER: That was something we talked
about last night. We woke up thinking about each
other, and we knew what our plan was going into the
game, and he was with it and I was with it. I picked him
up right when I got took out of the game. He knew
what the deal was.
Q. Kumar, for your freshman year to end here and
have the ups and downs it had, but to not only
have the last three starts be so good, but to end it
in Omaha, what does it mean to you?
KUMAR ROCKER: I think it made me a better person
in general. I remember when I couldn’t get that first
inning against TCU. I remember Tennessee, I
remember those days like they were yesterday, and to
finish here with this team is awesome.
Q. Kumar, tonight seemed like you were starting
some hitters with the changeup. How important
was that pitch for you, especially early in the
KUMAR ROCKER: Yeah, I didn’t throw one changeup.
I think — yeah, let’s go with slider. I think landing the
slider early in the count is a big thing for hitters in
Q. Tim, as you watch Kumar do what he’s done
throughout the postseason, have you ever seen a
freshman that poised in that big of a situation, and
what do you attribute that to?
TIM CORBIN: I haven’t, because I don’t think we’ve
had a freshman in that situation before. I attribute it to
his maturity and his — how he prepares. That was the
one thing that stood out with me when I was talking to
Browny about him down in the pitching lab in October.
He said the kid takes initiative of everything he’s doing.
He’s a director. He’s not an actor. You don’t have to
tell him what to do. There’s a clear difference. He
When he’s coached, he doesn’t sit there and just
“yeah, yeah” you. He’s curious. He asks good
questions. He’s a sponge. I just see a kid that wants
to really learn and wants to really, really be good. He
wants to be special. And he’s got a chance to,
because he pitches for his team. He said that, but
that’s not manufactured, that’s a real feeling.
Q. Tim, both you and Erik have talked about being
loose and your guys having fun in Omaha, but
tomorrow is a pretty tense game. Do you want
your guys to enjoy? Do you think they will enjoy
TIM CORBIN: Well, you know, it’s easy to sit up here
and say yes right now. I mean, they’ll do the best job
they can to stay consistent with what they’ve done
during the course of the year. I understand the
situation. They understand the situation. Erik and his
team does, too.
But they’ll put themselves in a good position to
compete well tomorrow.
Q. Tyler Brown went two and two thirds tonight. Do
you see tomorrow him being of as much use, or
will you have to limit him a little bit more than you
TIM CORBIN: Everyone who steps in that dugout
tomorrow will be in use or can be ready to play. Yep.
Q. Kumar at times was throwing the breaking ball
79, 80, which is a little lower than he normally sits
with that. Was that intentional maybe to take a
little something off it tonight, or has he done that
TIM CORBIN: No, was that the radar gun on the
scoreboard? Yeah, I don’t trust that. He’s throwing
well. If he’s missing a bat, I could say 68. It doesn’t
matter; it’s a good pitch.
Q. Four runs today but a lot of hard-hit balls, a lot
of deep flyouts. What did you think of the team’s
TIM CORBIN: Better. I thought early we were
squeezing it. It reminded me of the Duke second game
to be honest with you. We were fighting to get some
offense, leaving the zone, couldn’t get to the middle of
the ball and chasing some off-speed pitches that were
off the plate.
So, you know, you can’t fault kids for that because
they’re just trying to compete and they’re trying to win
for their team. But I thought we settled in a little bit
better as the game went along, and we took the runs
that happened to — that were given to us. But at the
same time, I thought we hit the ball better from the fifth
inning and on, after Clarkey hit that home run actually.
Q. On Tyler, you obviously have a game tomorrow
if you get through this. Do you think in terms of
win this game, that’s it, whatever it takes, use him
as much as needed, or do you think in terms of
how much can I use him tonight if we’re playing
tomorrow, if that makes sense?
TIM CORBIN: Well, there’s no tomorrow without
tonight, and you have to do whatever is possible within
tonight. But tomorrow is a different deal. You get to
tomorrow and understand it’s the last game of your
season. There’s no turning back. I mean, everyone
from an adrenaline standpoint is going to be ready to
go. I don’t think there’s going to be any surprise from a
Q. To that point — I ask coaches this every year
when we’re in a Game 3 — how much of your job
over the next 24 hours might be as a sports
psychologist? Do you have to worry about that
with this group, or do they take care of
TIM CORBIN: No, I don’t worry about this group. I
haven’t worried about this group all year. They’re that
middle child that you don’t discipline, you don’t give a
curfew to, you don’t do anything to, and they give you
no reason to worry.
Now, in competition, yeah, it’s just being able to settle
in and relax and play. But no, I don’t worry about that.
Q. Tim, you’ve talked a lot about the maturity of
this team and keeping focus on everything. How
excited are you to just watch them play this game
tomorrow night with something, like I said,
unspoken, but this is always the goal? How
excited are you just to watch them tomorrow?
TIM CORBIN: Well, I always feel that way. Once we
get to the field or once we get on the bus, I don’t talk to
them again. All the talking that I do with them is in a
hotel or in a classroom when we’re back in Nashville.
But once they get on that bus, that’s theirs. It’s theirs,
and it’s theirs to enjoy. I never want to get in their way.
So I’m — yeah, I’ll be just as excited as I was today. I
just couldn’t wait to play this game again, and I know
they couldn’t, either. But yeah, tomorrow will be fun.
We’re excited that we can be part of this. This is a
great event, and I think a lot of times when I’m in the
outfield just walking around, you have to squeeze
yourself to say, we’ve been in this place for 13, 14 days,
what a special feeling this is.
I’m just very happy that these guys get the opportunity
to do it because it’s so difficult to get out here, and yet
so difficult to be playing tomorrow afternoon or
tomorrow evening, as well.
ERIK BAKICH: Well, I think it only seems fitting that our
team would go to three games. That’s just kind of
been our MO here in all these rounds. Just seems like
we’re very comfortable in that spot. After the game,
just sensed a calmness of our team, and they’re
excited to play tomorrow.
The big story line tonight was Kumar Rocker. He’s as
advertised. He’s got a special breaking ball that’s
tough to see. You try to sit on a fastball, and he throws
enough of those breaking balls for strikes. You try to sit
on the breaking ball, and he gets you with a 95 milean-hour fastball.
I’m glad that the college game has players like that in it.
The college game is better when guys like that come to
school. And he was good tonight. He had our number.
We had some chances that we didn’t cash in. We
didn’t get the two-out RBIs tonight.
But I thought our guys that we pieced this game
together with did a good job. They scored an unearned
run as a byproduct of an error, we spike a couple of
wild pitches that score two runs. But out side of that,
the solo home run was really the one run that they had
really got into.
But I thought the guys that — the six guys that pitched
did a fine job, outside of the two walks and the two
spiked fastballs for runs, all the other guys — five out of
the six guys did pretty good. No issues with them.
Feel good about Karl Kauffmann and Jeff Criswell for
tomorrow, and, again, feel good about the makeup of
our team responding after a tough night.
But, again, tip of the cap to Kumar Rocker.
Q. Jordan, what was kind of your assessment of
Kumar and just what makes him so difficult to hit?
JORDAN BREWER: Yeah, like Coach said, he hides
his curve ball really well. Once you sit on a curveball,
he’s coming with a 95-mile-per-hour fastball, either
inside or outside. It’s hard to see, and it comes out of
his hand really well.
Q. Jack, obviously not the result you wanted
tonight, but you get to come back tomorrow. How
much confidence does it give you having those two
guys out on the mound that Coach just mentioned,
they’ve both just been nailed so far this
postseason? How much confidence does that give
JACK BLOMGREN: I think our whole team always has
confidence no matter what happens, and we’ve been
resilient all year. Those two guys coming in tomorrow
have been great all year, so we have so much
confidence in them, and it’s going to be about how bad
— which team wants it how bad.
Q. Erik, can you just talk about the decision to start
Paige, and did you feel like you were at your best
tomorrow if you had both Kauffman and Criswell
ERIK BAKICH: Well, we had a lot of confidence in
Isaiah Paige. It wasn’t just a random — his numbers
are good, and he fills up the strike zone with three
pitches. He did a nice job tonight.
The impetus for the decision to start Paige was more
the desire to have Jeff Criswell out of the pen in an
extended role. We knew that if we got any kind of a
lead in the middle innings, we were going to go right to
Criswell, and instead of extending him in the start like
we did at UCLA a couple of weeks ago coming off of
pitching an inning the night before, we felt like he would
better serve our team finishing the game off.
And so there was a lot of deliberation, but at the end of
the day, it just kind of got to a point where we said:
This really is a no-brainer. We need Jeff at the back
end of the game.
It didn’t work out that way. We never got the lead. But
he would have been ready to go had we have. But,
again, very — feel very good about Isaiah Paige. For a
redshirt freshman to go in there in that stage and fill up
the strike zone with three pitches and show a lot of
poise and command, I thought he did a nice job.
Q. Coach, you touched on it a little bit about being
in this position in the regional and the super
regional. Just talk about being in that must-win
situation one more time this season.
ERIK BAKICH: Yeah, that’s the one positive of the Big
Ten tournament, the regional round, the super regional
round and now this. We’ve been here — we’ve had a
lot of repetitions with these types of games. All the
adversity that we’ve faced in the last month, month and
a half, it’s just callused our mind, and guys are very
comfortable in these environments and in these spots.
I told the team, it seems very fitting that this is going to
come down to Game 3. That seems like how it should
be with the story line of this particular team, with team
Q. Coach, you’ve got Kauffman coming back on
four days’ rest, I think. I assume that’s something
he hasn’t done a lot of in his career, but have you
talked to him about how he’s feeling and how much
do you expect to get out of him tomorrow? What’s
your state of mind about Kauffman heading into
ERIK BAKICH: I haven’t talked to him, but I’m sure in a
World Series final Game 3, he’s feeling pretty good. I
know he and Coach Fetter have had those
conversations, and that’s been the plan all along. He’s
starting on Friday against Texas Tech, and if it went to
Wednesday, he was going to be ready to go.
The one thing about Karl, he’s older, he’s mature, he
knows how to take care of his body, so he has done the
things he needs to do from a workout standpoint and a
recovery standpoint to get his body and himself ready
to go on four days’ rest and pitch on the fifth day.
Q. Erik, if you could talk about Jordan’s injury and
also what are your thoughts on who might bat
leadoff tomorrow with Jordan looking like he’s for
sure out and if you’re going to stick with Dominic
in the DH spot?
ERIK BAKICH: Yeah, Nwogu felt his quad pull when he
was running, and it was tough for him to put pressure
on it, and the doc that evaluated him said he had a
quad strain. So I would guess with the way he was
coming off the field, that would be a tough assignment
to be ready to go in 24 hours.
But, you know, we’ve been in this position multiple
times in the year. Nwogu has been out, Franklin has
been out, Brewer has been out. So we’ve had a lot of
guys step up and get opportunities. Dom could be a
guy that we could run back out there, but I’m probably
leaning towards a guy like Riley Bertram who’s been a
spark throughout this postseason. A guy like Miles
Lewis could do it and has done it all year. He’s got
200-something at-bats and 16 doubles and had a lot of
I think what we’ll do is watch a lot of film tonight and
tomorrow and just see the matchup with Hickman and
what seems to fit best, whether it’s a right-hander like
Miles Lewis or switch-hitter like Bertram or just a left
hander like Dominic and make a decision between one
of those three guys.
Q. And then leadoff, would maybe Jack Blomgren
go there? Have you given that much thought?
ERIK BAKICH: Yeah, I like the flow of our lineup, so I
thought would be to just bump everybody up one.
We’ve had Ako shift up a time or two, but I like the
order and the way it goes. So we may just bump
everybody up and whoever is DHing could hit in the 9
Q. Do you know much about Mason Hickman at
that point, and was it a plus that you got Tyler
Brown to throw 40 pitches against you?
ERIK BAKICH: I just remember Mason Hickman from
the recruiting process. He’s a Mount Julia kid; is that
right? Hendersonville, that’s right. Well, same thing.
But yeah, he was always three-pitch command. I was
always very impressed with him in high school, and I
obviously follow Vanderbilt very closely so follow all
their games and all their success and saw how well he
did when he pitched as kind of their fourth starter this
year, and now that he’s moved into the 3 hole of the
rotation, he’s got great numbers, and he does a really
good job of pounding the zone with three pitches.
We’ll have our work cut out for us tomorrow, that’s for
sure. I’m sure Tyler Brown will have no issues coming
back tomorrow, even though he threw 40 pitches, just
knowing that kid and what he’s all about and his
makeup and his story.
So I don’t think 40 pitches is going to be a deterrent to
come back tomorrow. But he’s got really good stuff, as
does their whole pitching staff.
Q. How much of your job over the next 24 hours is
going to be sports psychologist, reading faces and
are we going to be ready, or at this point in the
season you don’t worry about those things?
ERIK BAKICH: Well, I just read their faces in the
dugout and they were smiling, and this is a bounceback team.
We’ve had so many bouts of adversity
where we’ve been knocked down that tonight doesn’t —
I didn’t sense that they were totally bummed out and
would kind of come into tomorrow still dragging their
feet. They walked out of here with their head held high.
They know once we hit the pillow tonight, this one is
over, and are you kidding me, we’ve got a chance to
play again tomorrow, and we’ll just have to play better.
I thought we had chances today and I thought we could
have competed a little bit better in certain spots, but we
had some backwards K’s, got caught guessing. But I
would be shocked if we didn’t come out tomorrow with
our best energy and all the things that have allowed us
to play well up to this point.
Wednesday, June 26
CWS Finals Game 3 – Michigan vs. Vanderbilt, 7 p.m. ET