OMAHA, Neb. — Jimmy Kerr homered for the third time in the College World Series, and Michigan beat Vanderbilt 7-4 in Game 1 of the best-of-three finals Monday night at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Wolverines (50-20), who were one of the final four teams into the NCAA Tournament, are seeking the school’s first baseball championship since 1962.
Vanderbilt (57-12) looks to bounce back Tuesday with first pitch set for 6 p.m. on ESPN. The Commodores have not dropped consecutive games since April 6-7 at Georgia. In its last trip to the finals (2015), Vanderbilt won the opener before dropping the final two to Virginia.
Tommy Henry (12-5) was unflappable for a second straight start. Coming off a three-hit shutout of Florida State on June 17, he struck out eight while pitching 8 1/3 innings of seven-hit ball. Jeff Criswell got the last two outs.
Vanderbilt spotted Michigan a 4-0 lead. But it was 4-3 after JJ Bleday hit his nation-leading 27th homer on Henry’s first pitch of the sixth. It marked Bleday’s first long ball since May 25 against LSU at the SEC Tournament. The junior accounted for one of the Commodores seven hits.
The Wolverines got off to a fast start against Drake Fellows (13-2). Big Ten player of the year Jordan Brewer doubled into the right-field corner for Michigan’s first run and came home on Blake Nelson’s base hit. Ako Thomas doubled in a run in the second, and Jesse Franklin’s groundout brought in another.
Fellows left with two on and two outs in the sixth, and left-hander Zach King worked out of the trouble before giving up Kerr’s homer the next inning.
Joe Donovan’s homer leading off the eighth against Patrick Raby put the Wolverines up 7-3.