- Paul Sherman/Daily
By Jeremy Summitt, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 7, 2013
The Michigan baseball team has looked like it’s been tossing batting practice to Eastern Michigan this year, giving up a combined 28 runs in the teams’ two meetings. Those 28 runs allowed to the Eagles are the most the Wolverines have given up to a single opponent this season.
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Michigan (10-8 Big Ten, 24-22 overall) resumed playing a postponed Apr. 17 game against Eastern Michigan on Tuesday. Tuesday’s contest picked up in the bottom of the third inning with the Eagles (9-12 MAC, 22-24) leading, 4-1, and the Wolverines were eventually throttled, 13-4.
“It was disappointing to see that we give up four touchdowns in two games against these guys,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “But it’s a combination of us not playing well, not pitching well and them hitting very well.”
The Wolverines struck first, though, when freshman first baseman Jack Sexton grounded into a fielder’s choice in the fourth inning, scoring junior right fielder Michael O’Neill. The Wolverines loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth, but could only manage the lone run.
It would be the only run Michigan would tally all evening until O’Neill and sophomore right fielder Kyle Jusick each knocked in an RBI single in the seventh and ninth inning, respectively.
“We loaded the bases, which is a positive. We get a hit there, who knows where the game goes,” O’Neill said. “We get one run where bases loaded, no outs; you expect to get two or three and it’s a whole new game.”
Added Bakich: “If you can have the bases loaded with nobody out and minimize the damage to just one run, you’re going to be pretty excited about it. And that’s what happened. They got the momentum all on their side.”
And the Eagles capitalized on that momentum in the next inning. Junior right-hander Alex Lakatos took the mound on Tuesday, dueling Eastern Michigan’s Michael Marsinek, and struggled from the get-go. Lakatos failed to locate most of his pitches, particularly in the fifth inning when he consecutively hit two batters and walked another before giving up a bases-loaded, two-out single.
Senior right-hander Chad Jasman took over after Lakatos’s lackluster outing but he couldn’t seem to find the strike zone, either, giving up a walk and hitting a batter as he gave up three earned runs after facing just four batters. Following the game, Bakich had a hard time finding answers for his struggling pitching staff.
“Some days, everybody has a bad day so it could have been that,” Bakich said. “Jasman threw six good innings against Indiana. He’s been up and down but he’s certainly going to be a guy we’re going to need to go to in a long-relief role from here on out, all the way through the postseason.”
The Wolverines were slow to wake up from their nightmare, giving up seven runs, all with two outs, before sophomore right-hander Jay Perry finally recorded the final out in relief of Jasman.
Along with the evident pitching woes, Michigan struggled to generate any offense most of the evening. Knocking in two-out RBI or hitting effectively with runners in scoring position continue to be the issues that stymy any of Michigan’s offensive momentum. The Wolverines stranded 11 runners Tuesday and had only one extra-base hit.
Coming off a rejuvenating series victory over Iowa this past weekend, this game was certainly a setback in hopes of regaining momentum heading towards the final two Big Ten series this season. Michigan will look to get back on track tomorrow when it hosts Toledo.
“When you get beat by 10 or 11 runs, there’s nothing you can do other than almost forget about it,” O’Neill said. “You have to get rid of it and flush it quick. You can’t let that performance today affect the performance tomorrow.”