OMAHA, Neb. — Michigan and Vanderbilt will play in the 2019 College World Series finals, starting Monday, June 24. Both teams are 3-0 in Omaha so far, as each looks to become the 26th NCAA baseball national championship to go undefeated in College World Series play.
Here’s how the two CWS finalists match up statistically ahead of the best-of-three series.
Team statistics: Michigan vs. Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt tops the nation with a program-record 97 home runs this year, is sixth in batting average (.314) and leads Michigan in almost every major offensive category. But Michigan’s hot offense leads all teams in CWS play with 22 runs in three games — largely thanks to Friday’s 15-3 rout of Texas Tech. Both teams have four homers in Omaha, coming from just two players each.
On the mound, the numbers match up more evenly, with Michigan holding the edge in categories like ERA and total earned runs. But Vanderbilt’s power pitchers give the Commodores a substantial lead in strikeouts.
Karl Kauffmann, Tommy Henry and Jeff Criswell have combined to make 54 of Michigan’s 69 starts in 2019. That trio represented the Wolverines’ only pitchers used thus far in CWS play, making Michigan the first team to reach the CWS championship series while using three or fewer arms since Georgia in 1990. Vanderbilt relied on four regular starters this year: Drake Fellows (18 starts), Kumar Rocker (15), Patrick Raby (15) and Mason Hickman (12).
Game 1 probable pitching matchup: Tommy Henry vs. Drake Fellows
Left-hander Tommy Henry will likely get the ball for Michigan in Game 1 Monday night against Vanderbilt’s right-handed ace Drake Fellows.
|Tommy Henry (Michigan)||115.2||3.27||1.04||11-5||127||14.1||95||25||42/48||2|
|Drake Fellows (Vanderbilt)||111.0||3.97||1.32||13-1||126||14.0||104||43||49/53||2|
Fellows will have a full week’s rest after starting Vandy’s CWS opener on Sunday, June 16. He went seven innings, striking out six and allowing just one run. Henry was spectacular in his his one CWS start on Monday, June 17, going the distance in a three-hit shutout over Florida State.
Both teams have given up just six runs to the opposition through three games in Omaha.
Leadoff hitters: Jordan Nwogu and Austin Martin
|Jordan Nwogu (Michigan)||.326||1.009||239||78||14||4||12||46||43||56||16-of-18 (89%)|
|Austin Martin (Vanderbilt)||.406||1.127||256||104||19||4||10||45||38||86||18-of-23 (78%)|
Martin leads the nation with his 86 runs and is one of 14 players to hit over .400 this year. The sophomore has two multi-homer games in the NCAA tournament, including a two-dinger day against Louisville in the College World Series opener. Nwogu has scored a run in each of Michigan’s three CWS games.
No. 2 hitters: Jesse Franklin and JJ Bleday
|Jesse Franklin (Michigan)||.262||.876||248||65||14||1||13||54||50||59||4-for-4 (100%)|
|JJ Bleday (Vanderbilt)||.354||1.181||263||93||14||1||26||70||58||79||1-for-2 (50%)|
Franklin tied Michigan’s CWS record with four RBIs last time out against Texas Tech. He’s one behind Jimmy Kerr for most homers on the team. Meanwhile, Bleday leads all of DI baseball with his 26 home runs. His 10-game homerless streak is the longest drought of the year, but he’s still 4-for-9 with three walks so far in the CWS.
No. 3 hitters: Jordan Brewer and Ethan Paul
|Jordan Brewer (Michigan)||.329||.953||234||77||19||0||12||57||23||56||0-of-0 (0%)|
|Ethan Paul (Vanderbilt)||.316||.892||275||87||23||1||9||72||30||54||11-of-13 (85%)|
Brewer was the 2019 Big Ten Player of the Year and paces the Wolverines with 31 extra-base hits on the year. Paul, taking advantage batting behind Martin and Bleday, has driven in a team-best 72 RBIs. None was bigger than a one-out game-tying double to score Bleday in the ninth inning of Vanderbilt’s comeback win over Louisville on Friday.
Cleanup hitters: Jimmy Kerr and Philip Clarke
|Jimmy Kerr (Michigan)||.278||.886||255||71||15||1||14||62||43||51||6-of-7 (86%)|
|Philip Clarke (Vanderbilt)||.301||.852||266||80||13||4||8||68||30||46||3-of-5 (60%)|
Kerr became the first Wolverine to go deep twice in a CWS game; he was 4-for-6 with two homers, three RBIs and four runs scored in Michigan’s 15-3 win over Texas Tech. His six RBIs are tops in 2019 CWS play. Vandy’s Clarke has been quiet so far in Omaha, going 3-for-12 with a walk.
No. 5 hitters: Blake Nelson and Pat DeMarco
|Blake Nelson (Michigan)||.300||.793||223||67||16||1||1||37||30||42||15-of-15 (100%)|
|Pat DeMarco (Vanderbilt)||.294||.885||194||57||18||3||6||48||23||45||6-of-9 (67%)|
Nelson isn’t a power threat, but he’s a .300 hitter and a threat on the basepaths. The senior third baseman has two multi-hit games in the CWS. DeMarco delivered the ninth inning go-ahead RBI in Friday’s 3-2 win over Louisville, one of two runs driven in for the center fielder so far in Omaha.
No. 6 hitters: Christian Bullock and Stephen Scott
|Christian Bullock (Michigan)||.280||.830||107||30||6||2||2||14||20||27||13-of-15 (87%)|
|Stephen Scott (Vanderbilt)||.331||1.045||242||80||20||1||14||59||45||67||5-of-6 (83%)|
Bullock has only started 28 games for Michigan in 2019 but has gotten the nod in left field all three games of this CWS. After going hitless his first two games, the junior went 1-for-2 and walked three times on Friday. Scott had his big game in Vanderbilt’s second game against Mississippi State. The senior went deep twice and knocked in four.
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No. 7 hitters: Jack Blomgren and Harrison Ray
|Jack Blomgren (Michigan)||.304||.807||230||70||8||2||3||47||34||38||7-of-11 (64%)|
|Harrison Ray (Vanderbilt)||.275||.762||222||61||18||2||2||36||30||48||21-of-24 (88%)|
Blomgren was named the second-team All-Big Ten shortstop in a solid sophomore campaign where he’s slashed .304/.396/.411. Ray’s 18 doubles are fourth among Commodores. His 21 stolen bases are three better than Martin for most on the team.
No. 8 hitters: Joe Donovan and Ty Duvall
|Joe Donovan (Michigan)||.237||.736||198||47||12||0||8||36||19||38||0-of-2 (0%)|
|Ty Duvall (Vanderbilt)||.285||.857||179||51||11||0||5||41||40||34||0-of-1 (0%)|
Both backstops slide into the 8-hole. Donovan’s been a steady presence behind the plate, catching three quality starts from Kauffmann (twice) and Henry in the College World Series. Duvall, who could also DH, has the overall advantage when it comes to getting on base. But Donovan’s shown a bit more pop.
No. 9 hitters: Ako Thomas and Julian Infante
|Ako Thomas (Michigan)||.265||.733||215||57||15||1||2||30||28||37||2-of-4 (50%)|
|Julian Infante (Vanderbilt)||.238||.809||189||45||9||0||12||39||26||34||3-of-4 (75%)|
How deep is Vanderbilt’s lineup? Extensive enough to stick a senior with Infante’s power potential down in the 9-spot. Infante hasn’t found his stroke so far in Omaha but he had four homers in the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament. Michigan’s Thomas has a hit in seven of nine postseason games. He scored two and drove in two in the Wolverines’ latest win over Texas Tech.