Bertram

Riley Bertram follows through on a swing this season. Bertram went 7-for-14 in the regional to help the Wolverines during the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines have advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1984.

Ann Arbor — Riley Bertram is no stranger to his teams playing well in the post-season.

In his four years playing for Zionsville, the Eagles won four sectional titles, two regional titles and played for the state championship in 2016.

Now that he has moved on to the college ranks, the post-season success has continued for Bertram, who is a freshman middle infielder at the University of Michigan, who are gearing up to play in their first College World Series since 1984.

"This run has been awesome," Bertram said on Tuesday afternoon. "Our whole team has been working really hard to get to this point and it's just an amazing feeling. It's something that you always dream about growing up, and to get here is pretty awesome."

It has been a Cinderella story of sorts for the Wolverines over the past couple of weeks.

After starting the season 36-11, the Wolverines dropped six of eight at the end of the season, including a 2-1 loss to Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, to put themselves on NCAA Tournament bubble with a 38-17 record.

In an elimination game against Illinois, Michigan found themselves down 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth and down to their final out when Jordan Nwogu hit a game-winning double to keep the Wolverines alive.

The Wolverines won their next two games to make it to the tournament semifinals, and earned their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Bertram said that weekend was a big spark for the team.

"The Big Ten Tourney gave us a lot of confidence," Bertram said. "Coach (Erik) Bakich was telling us about how really, we could have been one strike away from not making it. But we got a clutch hit, then won a couple more and that has really sparked us. Our starters Karl (Kauffman), Tommy (Henry) and Jeff Criswell have really been pitching well, and the offense really came through with some big hits."

This season has been a little bit different for Bertram, who has played limited games behind a strong senior infield class and incumbent shortstop sophomore Jack Blomgren.

Bertram had just 10 at bats in the regular season, collecting three hits and not making an error in his seven chances in the field.

After being a starter all four years in high school, earning all-state and honorable mention All-American honors, Bertram said he has been learning a lot his freshman year at Michigan, and is just focused on doing whatever he can to help the team win.

He said he has been soaking up whatever knowledge he can from Blomgren and starting second baseman Ako Thomas.

"It's been a long season at nearly 70 games and it's still going, but it's been awesome," he said. "I have learned so much this year. Having guys like Jack and Ako Thomas in front of me, they are two of the best teammates. They teach me things every day, and treat me like any other player on the team. The rest of the team has been like that too. But those two guys have taught me so much and I am happy that I have been able to get to learn from them."

Bertram did get his chance in the spotlight in the Regional at Oregon State, and didn't let it go to waste.

When Blomgren tweaked a muscle in his back, Bertram was called into duty and made his first career start in the NCAA Tournament.

Bertram went 4-for-4 with a run scored in a 10-4 win over Cincinatti, then went 3-for-10 with three RBIs and two runs scored in two games against Creighton to help the Wolverines advance to the Super Regional against UCLA.

In the three biggest games of his young career, he went 7-for-14 with three RBIs and three runs scored.

"It was just an awesome feeling and the best part about it was helping the team win," Bertram said. "The coaches came before the game and said they needed me and to just be confident and play my game. I knew that all my teammates were going to have my back and I just went out and did what I could."

The Wolverines went on to take 2-of-3 from No. 1 overall seed UCLA to advance to the College World Series for the eighth time in program history and first time since 1984.

Bertram said the team enjoyed the victory to get them to Omaha, but since they got back Monday night it's been all business.

The Wolverines open with Texas Tech on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Red Raiders swept a three-game series between the teams in late March, but after knocking out the No. 1 seed, Bertram said he and his teammates are confident heading into the match-up.

"The way we have been playing absolutely gives us confidence," Bertram said. "We know Texas Tech is a good team and things didn't go our way the last time we played, but beating UCLA two of three at their place has given us a lot of confidence. We are playing our best baseball right now and we are going to give it everything we have."

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