In March, it was basketball; in May – baseball. For the second time this year, Northwestern has taken down Michigan in a high-stakes, come-from-behind win.
It would be pretty sad to go an all-academics, minimal-sports Big Ten school like Michigan— NBN Sports (@nbn_sports) May 24, 2017
The seventh-seeded ‘Cats rallied to defeat two-seed Michigan 6-4 in Bloomington, Indiana, and will now face three-seed Minnesota in the second round on Thursday night. This was NU’s first tournament win since 2006 in the program's first conference tournament appearance since 2010.
Going into the ninth inning, the Wildcats trailed 4-3 to a Michigan team that went 42-13 in the regular season (16-8 B1G), and Michigan’s star closer Jackson Lamb took the mound for the final frame. NU catcher Jack Claeys started the rally with a single, and two batters (and a single and a walk) later, the bases were loaded for RF Ben Dickey. Dickey singled to tie the game, then Grant Peikert added the go-ahead RBI on a fielder’s choice to shortstop, scoring Connor Lind. Alex Erro added an insurance run on an RBI single, making it 6-4 going into the bottom of the ninth.
Pete Hofman got the save with a clean ninth inning, and the ‘Cats shocked Michigan to move into the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination B1G tournament.
Despite the comeback, Northwestern actually struck first in the game with a second inning homer by Lind to take a 1-0 lead. After Michigan tied it, Erro took the lead back with a two-run shot of his own in the top of the third. Erro finished 2-5 with a game-high three RBI.
However, the Wolverines clawed back: a third-inning homer off starter Cooper Wetherbee cut the lead to one, and they added two more in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Wetherbee finished with 4 runs allowed (3 earned) over 5 innings with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks. Wetherbee, a senior, may have made his last career start unless the ‘Cats’ tournament run continues.
After the win, NU (25-28, 13-11 B1G) takes on fifth-seeded Minnesota at 7:30 CT on Thursday. Minnesota was 35-19 (15-8 B1G) in the regular season and just defeated Indiana in the first round of the tournament.