No. 2 seed Rutgers (44-15) lost to No. 5 seed Michigan (32-26) by the final score of 10-4 in the Big Ten Baseball Tournament championship game on Sunday night in Omaha, Nebraska. Control on the mound against the potent Wolverine offense was an issue in the loss, as RU pitchers walked 8 batters in addition to allowing 10 hits.
Michigan jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Rutgers tied the game in the bottom of the third when Tony Santa Maria hit a game tying triple to score a run one inning after Josh Kuroda-Grauer hit a solo home run.
The Wolverines burned the Scarlet Knights by scoring runs in six of seven innings in which their leadoff hitter got on base. They scored a run in each the fourth, fifth and sixth innings before Santa Maria hit a sacrifice fly for his second RBI of the game to make the score 5-3 Michigan. Unfortunately, catcher Jimmy Obertop hit a three run homer in the 8th inning to essentially put the game out of reach before the final score of 10-4 was complete.
The Rutgers offense which scored 29 runs combined in their first three Big Ten Tournament games tallied just seven hits along with only 4 runs.
After winning three consecutive games to advance to the championship game, the tournament’s double elimination rule did not apply to the final game. The Wolverines lost to No. 3 Iowa last night before beating them on Sunday afternoon to advance to face the Scarlet Knights, who eliminated No. 8 Indiana early Sunday morning around 4 a.m. ET. The schedule was impacted by the Big Ten Tournament starting a day late after all four games for Wednesday were rained out completely. Rutgers did have an advance facing Michigan having played one less game but were unable to take advantage.
Even so, the Scarlet Knights has outperformed expectations this season by all accounts. After not even being picked to finish in the top six of the Big Ten and having never qualified for the Big Ten Tournament, they finished in second place and advanced to the championship game.
The Scarlet Knights had Chris Brito and Nathan Florence included on the Big Ten All-Tournament team.
Rutgers certainly helped its resume in hopes of earning a NCAA Tournament bid for the first time since 2007. The Selection Show announcing the 64 team field is scheduled to air at noon on Memorial Day on ESPN2. The Scarlet Knights have a 44-15 overall record and have an an RPI of 42. Projections from D1 Baseball and Baseball America list Rutgers safely in as a No. 3 seed. Stay tuned for Monday’s official announcement and we will have complete coverage.