Michigan and Texas Tech will match up for the second time in the 2019 College World Series Friday afternoon, this time in the national semifinals. With a win, Michigan clinches a spot in the CWS championship series. Texas Tech must defeat the Wolverines both Friday and Saturday to advance.
Friday's game is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET. Here's what you need to know ahead of the Michigan-Texas Tech matchup.
2019 College World Series: Michigan vs. Texas Tech | TV schedule, time, how to watch
Texas Tech vs. Michigan is the first of two 2019 College World Series national semifinal games on the schedule for Friday, June 21. It will be available to watch on ESPN and WatchESPN.
Friday, June 21: Texas Tech vs. Michigan | 2 p.m. ET on ESPN | Live stats 📊 | TD Ameritrade Park Omaha
Saturday, June 22 (if necessary): Texas Tech vs. Michigan | TBD on ESPN | TD Ameritrade Park Omaha
What's at stake at the College World Series on Friday
Michigan is 2-0 in the College World Series, including a 5-3 win over Texas Tech last Saturday to open the 2019 tournament. Michigan needs just one win over the Red Raiders Friday or Saturday (if necessary) to lock down a spot in the national championship series for the first time since winning the 1962 CWS.
The Wolverines have allowed three runs in 18 innings in Omaha, following up its opener against TTU with a 2-0 shutout over Florida State. Tommy Henry tossed a complete game three-hitter against the Noles to put the Wolverines in the driver's seat in Bracket 1.
Texas Tech has won two straight since its loss to Michigan on June 15. The Red Raiders held off defending national runner-up Arkansas 5-4 and stifled Florida State 4-1 to set up Friday's rematch. Texas Tech must beat Michigan twice to eliminate the Wolverines and reach its first CWS finals in program history.
Only 12 teams in College World Series history have bounced back from an opening loss to win the national championship. Texas Tech looks to make it two straight, following Oregon State's run through the losers' bracket last season.
"If there's one thing that we would probably say, we'll take our team with our backs against the wall any day of the week, and we like our guys," Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock said after Saturday's opening loss.
The Michigan vs. Texas Tech pitching matchup
Tadlock announced Wednesday that freshman Micah Dallas (7-1, 3.60 ERA) will start Friday. On Thursday, Karl Kauffmann was officially announced Michigan's starter.
Wolverines coach Erik Bakich said postgame Monday that Kauffmann and Jeff Criswell would both be available after appearing in Saturday's opener against the Red Raiders. Kauffmann delivered a strong seven-inning, three-run start. Criswell finished the last two frames in relief, allowing no runs on one hit.
Kauffmann has gone at least seven innings while allowing three runs or less in four straight outings, dating back to the Big Ten tournament.
"For him to just fill up the strike zone with three pitches in any count, in any location, he's just tough to hit, especially with the ball moving that much," Bakich said after Saturday's win. "He's just been dialed in, and he and coach [Chris] Fetter have put together a really nice pitch plan, and it's a mature guy who's able to execute it. It's been a huge spark for us these last few weeks."
Dallas struggled opposite of Kauffmann in Game 1, lasting just three innings, giving up six hits and four runs (three earned). He was tagged with his first loss of the year. Dallas was previously 2-0 in the NCAA tournament, defeating Army (seven innings, one run) in regionals and Oklahoma State in super regionals (five innings, three runs).
College World Series semifinals: Players to watch
Michigan stuck with the same starting nine in its lineup for its first two games. Texas Tech's one big change Wednesday was the return of Gabe Holt (thumb injury) at the top of its order. Here's how the starting lineups will likely match up Friday afternoon:
|michigan||batting order||texas tech|
|Jordan Nwogu (DH)||1||Gabe Holt (RF)|
|Jesse Franklin (CF)||2||Dylan Neuse (CF)|
|Jordan Brewer (RF)||3||Brian Klein (2B)|
|Jimmy Kerr (1B)||4||Josh Jung (SS)|
|Blake Nelson (3B)||5||Cameron Warren (1B)|
|Christian Bullock (LF)||6||Cody Masters (DH)|
|Jack Blomgren (SS)||7||Kurt Wilson (LF)|
|Joe Donovan (C)||8||Easton Murrell (3B)|
|Ako Thomas (2B)||9||Braxton Fulford (C)|
Player to watch from Michigan: Jimmy Kerr's CWS lineage has been documented often during Michigan's surprise run to the national semifinals. The third-generation Michigan star has just two hits in seven at bats so far in the College World Series, but they've both been big ones. In Game 1 against Texas Tech, he stroked his first triple in two years, off of Dallas, to drive in two. Against Florida State, Kerr sliced an opposite field RBI single in the 2-0 win.
Player to watch from Texas Tech: Josh Jung is the headliner in Texas Tech's offense. Through three games, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2019 MLB draft is 4-for-11 with three runs scored and two driven in. He's sandwiched between Brian Klein (two homers at the CWS) and Cameron Warren (one homer, three RBIs) to form a dangerous heart of the order.
Michigan vs. Texas Tech prediction
Kauffmann isn't an overpowering pitcher. But he makes up for a lack of velocity with a run and sink on his fastball. He's a groundball pitcher that's only given up six homers all year. That bodes well for Michigan against a Texas Tech team that's scored seven of its 12 runs in this College World Series via the long ball.
Of course, facing the same lineup twice could be a disadvantage for Kauffmann, who threw 101 pitches in his seven innings on Saturday. On the flip side, Jung finished 1-for-4 with a run-resulting error in that first matchup. It's hard to hold a player of his caliber in check twice in a row.
But in the end, Michigan boasts arguably the best remaining 1-2 starting pitching combo in this year's field with Kauffmann and Henry. The Red Raiders need to beat them both.
Prediction: Michigan wins 5-4 to advance to the 2019 College World Series championship series.