The UCLA Bruins failed to advance to the College World Series after falling 4-2 to MI in Game 3 of the Super Regionals on Sunday.
The Wolverines open their eighth World Series appearance in program history against No. 8 Texas Tech on Saturday.
"To say we're excited is an understatement", MI coach Erik Bakich said. The Wolverines won anyways, topping the top-seed UCLA and advancing to the College World Series. The last time it happened was 2015 when the Bruins were eliminated in regional play.
The Bruins had 13 players selected in last week's Major League Baseball draft, including seven every day players and the top two starting pitchers.
"This is a tough one to take", UCLA coach John Savage said. They needed a two-run walk-off double from sophomore outfielder Jordan Nwogu with two outs in the ninth inning against IL in the second game of the tournament just to keep their season alive. "It's disappointing for sure".
Benjamin Keizer got six huge outs for MI to close the game, striking out a pair of hitters and allowing just one base hit and one hit batter.
Meanwhile, junior left-hander Tommy Henry, who had been battling a virus all weekend, beat the Bruins for the second time this season.
MI also beat UCLA 7-5 on March 8.
"We knew how good this team was".
"Nobody expected us to be here, nobody expected us to win, and I think that just speaks to the belief in ourselves and how we have to grit ourselves to wins", said Henry, a Portage Northern graduate.
The Wolverines took a 3-2 lead in the fifth Sunday and did not allow a run after the third inning. He fired seven excellent innings, holding one of the best offenses in the nation to just two runs on seven hits.
MI took the fight to UCLA, though, controlling the first game for nine innings and leading for most of the second game before surrendering the lead in the eighth inning and losing in extra innings. After a leadoff walk and a Christian Bullock double, Jack Blomgren broke the scoreless tie with an RBI groundout.
Jeremy Ydens had three hits for UCLA. There's only been one Big Ten team to make the College World Series in the 35 years in between, in in 2013. The day and time will be determined after the rest of the field is set.
"It's definitely special for the conference".
MI coach Eric Bakich said Blomgren broke his finger sliding into second base, but after running briefly into the dugout, he returned to the game with his fingers taped and eventually recorded the final out with the tying run on base. "Seeing the process of how these guys have come together, it has been a long time coming". We felt like this could be a championship caliber club.