The Michigan Wolverines beat the Maryland Terrapins, 4-3, in the 2015 Big Ten Tournament baseball championship game on May 24.
The Michigan Wolverines men's baseball team is the 2015 Big Ten Tournament champion.
The Wolverines scored four runs during a key fourth-inning surge to beat the Maryland Terrapins, 4-3, at Target Field in Minneapolis on May 24. Michigan picks up its ninth Big Ten Tournament crown and 22nd NCAA Tournament berth in the process, per the Wolverines' official athletics website.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!— Michigan Baseball (@umichbaseball) May 24, 2015
The Terrapins scored first when Kevin Smith's sacrifice fly scored Nick Cieri during the top of the third inning. Michigan junior Cody Bruder tied the game at 1 apiece after his single allowed Jackson Glines to cross home plate from third base in the bottom of the fourth inning, per MGoBlue.com.
Kevin White's single scored Wolverines sophomore Carmen Benedetti to give Michigan a 2-1 lead. Bruder padded the lead to two runs after a wild pitch allowed him to reach home plate, per the Wolverines' official website.
Michigan freshman Jake Bivens' walk with the bases loaded during the bottom of the fourth inning padded his team's lead at 4-1, per MGoBlue.com.
Tensions escalated during the seventh inning "when Maryland grew upset with home-plate umpire Jim Schaly's strike zone," per The Detroit Free Press' Zach Shaw. Terrapins coach John Szefc was eventually thrown out of the game.
Sophomore Brett Adcock and the Michigan bullpen did their best to stymie the Maryland offense. After the Terrapins got a pair of walks in the eighth inning, Maryland junior Jose Cuas doubled to right. However, his teammate Kevin Martir slipped as he approached third base.
Cuas was tagged out when the tried to go for the triple. At that point, the score was 4-2 in favor of Michigan, per the Wolverines' official athletics' website.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Michigan reliever Jacob Cronenworth gave up a run on three singles before allowing the potential winning run to reach second base, per MLive.com's Michael Niziolek.
Luckily for Cronenworth, he forced Terrapins sophomore infielder Brandon Lowe to fly out to left field for the easy out and the Michigan victory. It was Cronenworth's fourth save of the NCAA season. The Wolverines now sport a 37-23 win-loss record, per MLive.com.
Michigan head baseball coach Erick Bakich told Niziolek how proud he is of his team:
"I'm so proud. Proud of our kids. Proud of our program. We're standing on 148 years of baseball tradition and a lot of great men, a lot of great teams have come for us, and our guys just wrote a page of their own history, when nobody expected them to do so. That's just awesome."
The Wolverines got to where they are because of their tenacious defense. A prime example of this was when Benedetti caught a fly ball deep in foul territory heading into the stands during the fifth inning, per MLive.com.
With this, Michigan starter Brett Adcock told Niziolek the Wolverines' defense was the key:
"Couldn't have been here without the defense. Everybody preaches about the good defense every game. I think me preparing the way I did, the defense definitely helped me out and just really helped us out for the rest of the tournament."
Glines also praised the Wolverines' "opportunitistic offense," per Shaw:
"We always go out there and try to make the pitcher throw as many pitches as we can and see a lot of pitches, and when he makes a mistake, that's when we strike.
"We're an opportunistic offense. (Bakich) doesn't always like that, but we try to take what we can when we can."
At the conclusion of the game, Cronenworth earned Most Oustanding Player of the Big Ten Tournament honors. Cronenworth, Adcock, Bruder and Glines on the all-tournament team, per MGoBlue.com.
The Wolverines will know their location and opponent during ESPNU's Selection Show at 12:00 p.m. ET on May 25, per their official athletics website.
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