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.

The Wolverines (50-20), who barely got into the NCAA tournament after a poor finish to the regular season, are seeking the school’s first baseball championship since 1962. Ohio State is the last Big Ten school to take home the title, winning it all in 1966.

Game 2 is Tuesday night.

Kerr’s two-run shot into the right-field bleachers in the seventh inning was followed by hugs all around for his family members. Among them were grandfather John Kerr, a member of the ‘62 Wolverines, and dad Derek Kerr, who played on the 1984 team, the last one to make it to the CWS before this year.

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 (57-12) spotted Michigan a 4-0 lead. But it was 4-3 after JJ Bleday, the No. 4 overall draft pick by the Miami Marlins this month, hit his nation-leading 27th homer on Henry’s first pitch of the sixth.

Kerr, a senior who went to Michigan as a walk-on, has played a huge role in his team’s improbable postseason run. He has hit seven of his 15 homers over 11 NCAA tournament games.

When the 64-team national tournament started, Caesar’s Palace sports book had Michigan listed at 200-to-1 odds to win the championship.

The Wolverines, sent to Corvallis, Oregon, as a No. 3 regional seed, staved off elimination in the first two rounds. In the super regionals at UCLA, they knocked out the No. 1 national seed. They won three straight in CWS bracket play, taking out No. 8 national seed Texas Tech, and now have their sights set on beating the No. 2 in Vandy.

The Wolverines got off to a fast start against Drake Fellows (13-2). ordan Brewer doubled into the right-field corner for Michigan’s first run and came home on Blake Nelson’s base hit.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Commenting is limited to Times-Dispatch subscribers. To sign up, click here.
If you’re already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.