Michigan defeats No. 2 UCLA with strong pitching

Junior left-hander Tommy Henry continued his torrid start to the season with 10 strikeouts over six innings as the No. 16-ranked University of Michigan baseball team took down No. 2-ranked UCLA, 7-5, on Friday evening (March 8) at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The game was the opener for both teams in the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic.

The Wolverines improved to 9-2 with the victory. The last win for Michigan over a top-five team was in the 2015 Big Ten Tournament when they knocked off then-No. 4 Illinois, 5-3, to advance to the championship game.

With two of the nation’s top pitchers on the mound, the game figured to be low scoring. Michigan had Henry (3-0, 23-inning scoreless streak) on the mound, while UCLA entered the game with a team ERA of 1.08, including a 1.80 ERA from Friday’s starter Zach Pettway.

Michigan scored four runs in the top of the first inning, when it took advantage of a Bruins miscue. Senior Ako Thomas led off the game with a fly ball to center field that was lost in the night sky by the center fielder and Thomas wound up at second base with a double. After a single and walk loaded the bases, Miles Lewis singled in Thomas for the first run of the game. A sacrifice fly from junior Jordan Brewerand a two-run single by sophomore Jesse Franklin sent the Wolverines to a 4-0 lead before Henry took the mound.  

Michigan added two runs in the third inning on three hits and two walks. Brewer drove in one with a single and sophomore Joe Donovanwalked with the bases loaded to push across another run.

The Bruins answered with two runs on four hits in the bottom of the third. The first run ended Henry’s 25-inning scoreless streak to start the season.

Henry pitched three shutout innings after the third inning. He finished his day allowing just the two third-inning runs on six hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks.

U-M brought in freshman Willie Weiss to relieve Henry in the seventh inning. A misplayed ball in foul territory that could have ended the inning helped lead UCLA to bases-clearing triple which cut the lead to one run, 6-5.

The Wolverines got one of the runs back in the top of the eighth inning when Donovan doubled and later scored on a wild pitch. Weiss then delivered a 1-2-3 shutdown inning in the bottom half and closed out the game with a scoreless ninth for a three-inning save, his fourth save of the season. Henry earned the win and improved to 4-0 on the season.

Brewer led the Wolverines at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Lewis was also 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored, while Franklin was 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBI.

Michigan will return to the diamond on Saturday (March 9) when they take on USC at 6 p.m. PST in game two of the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic.