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June 4, 2007
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Michigan freshman Alan Oaks hit a pinch-hitter homer off Vanderbilt ace David Price in the top of the tenth Monday night to lift the Wolverines (42-17) past the top-seeded Commodores 4-3 and into their first ever Super Regional next weekend.
Oaks stepped up with one career home run and a .188 average, but ripped a 3-1 fastball well over the left-centerfield wall off Price (11-1), who was pitching on two days rest. It was just the third homer he had allowed all season.
"It'll be one that will go down in Michigan history," said Michigan coach Rich Maloney. "I don't know if you could have a more dramatic homer against the number one pitcher in the country. You're not going to get many hits off of Price and you're hoping you get a long ball."
Michigan went ahead 1-0 in the second on a sacrifice fly by Eric Rose and extended its lead to two on a towering homer by Nate Recknagel, the Regional's Most Valuable Player.
The Commodores cut the deficit in half on a homer by sophomore Pedro Alvarez in the fourth, the 40th of his career, before the Wolverines responded with a run in the next inning on a RBI double by Brad Roblin.
They were threatening for more off Vanderbilt starter Tyler Rhoden, but Cody Crowell came on and retired the next three batters to escape further trouble.
The score would remain the same until the eighth when Vanderbilt did what it has done all season. David Macias walked, Dominic de la Osa doubled the rightfield line and Alvarez was intentionally walked to the load the bases. Ryan Flaherty drove one in on a sacrifice fly and Matt Meingasner followed with a single up the middle to tie the game at three.
In the bottom of the tenth, after Oaks stunned the 3,532 in attendance, Alvarez was robbed of a double when Derek VanBuskirk made a leaping catch at the wall. Ryan Flaherty followed with a single, but Matt Meingasner grounded out to end the game.
"I just thought we were going to win again," said Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin. "I did not visualize sitting in front of you talking about a loss tonight. I still think it's a bad dream. I just didn't see this coming. I just thought we were going to win again and that's just the power of the kids."
Adam Abraham earned the win for Michigan after pitching two innings in relief of starter Chris Fetter, who gave up two runs on seven hits while striking out three and walking two in seven innings. Michael Powers picked up the save.
Price took the loss for Vanderbilt, which finished the season with the best record in school history.
"From a coaching standpoint, I don't think ever had as much fun in my whole life," Corbin said. "They make it fun. They're low maintenance. There's not one selfish kid in the bunch. They're unbelievable and trust me when I say this, I've never seen a team like this and I think that's why we've been successful. We had some holes too, but we overcame a lot because of the way the kids felt about each other."