Eastern Michigan Michigan Baseball

Michigan sophomore Jack Blomgren makes a throw during a nonconference baseball game against Eastern Michigan on May 8. Blomgren, a 2017 Janesville Craig graduate, and the Wolverines open a best-of-three NCAA Super Regional at UCLA on tonight.

Jack Blomgren was not interested in sitting out a third consecutive day.

The University of Michigan sophomore had started all 61 baseball games this season prior to Saturday, when an oblique injury forced him out of the lineup against Cincinnati at an NCAA Regional in Corvallis, Oregon.

Blomgren missed that game and another Sunday against Creighton, but before those two teams met for a rematch Monday, the 2017 Janesville Craig High graduate insisted he be back in the lineup.

“I told him (my coach) that he had to play me or I was going to be (mad) at him,” Blomgren said Thursday in a phone interview from Los Angeles.

Blomgren was indeed back in the lineup against the Bluejays and went 1-for-2 with two RBI, a run scored and a pair of walks. Michigan pulled away for a 17-6 victory to win the regional and earn a date with UCLA in a best-of-three Super Regional that begins at 8 o’clock tonight. Every game of the series will air on ESPN2.

“We’re really excited,” Blomgren said. “It was an awesome feeling winning that game (against Creighton). We have a good matchup, and I think we’re going to be pretty prepared.”

Blomgren said he is not 100 percent but expects to be in the lineup against the Bruins.

“After we lost that game against Creighton, I just decided I felt good enough and there was no way I wasn’t going to play,” he said.

The injury has been about the only blip in what has otherwise been a standout sophomore season that saw Blomgren earn second-team all-Big Ten Conference honors at shortstop.

Known mostly for his glove as he earned a spot in the starting lineup as a freshman, Blomgren added offensive pop to his highlight-reel defense this season. He had a 15-game hitting streak and 19-game on-base streak at one point.

He enters the Super Regional hitting .313 with three home runs, two triples and eight doubles. The 2017 Gazette area high school baseball player of the year has driven in 45 runs and scored 35.

“I think it’s just experience—having a year under my belt, having a lot more at-bats,” Blomgren said. “Knowing my role on the team, as well, coming off a freshman year not really being a hitter. I knew this year I needed to produce more and do more for the team.

“I’m just trying to help us win any way possible.”

Now all that stands between Blomgren’s Wolverines—who were the No. 3 seed in their regional—and a trip to the College World Series is the No. 1 team in the country.

The Bruins are 51-9, while the Wolverines are 44-19. Michigan did, though, beat UCLA, 7-5, when the Bruins were ranked No. 2 in the nation back on March 8 in L.A.

“Everyone understands their role on the team and supports their teammates and is just really happy for each other,” Blomgren said. “I think we’ve got a really good shot to make it to the World Series. We have a really talented group. Even if we’re not the most talented group, matching up against UCLA, we’re very gritty and we’re going to be prepared.”

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