Trailing 5-1 in the top of the ninth inning, sophomore first baseman Jimmy Obertop launched a home run over the left-field wall. Obertop brought the Wolverines within two runs, leaving the door open for another comeback opportunity. Michigan went down swinging, a microcosm of their offensive struggles this past weekend at Nebraska. During their three games against the Cornhuskers, the Wolverines mustered a measly five runs.
In the opening game on Friday, Michigan was stumped at the plate. Through the first four innings, they produced hardly any offense. Their lone baserunner came via a hit by pitch in the top of the fourth. In the fifth, however, the Wolverines appeared poised to break the scoreless tie. Sophomore infielder Ted Burton worked a walk and sophomore outfielder Tito Flores lined a single down the left-field line.
With two men on and no outs, Michigan finally had a chance to score. Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the next three batters were silenced. Michigan would have a few more chances with runners in scoring position, but they were unable to put anything on the scoreboard, falling 1-0. The lineup may have disappointed against Nebraska, but that did not deter the team’s confidence.
“What doesn’t show is the amount of barrels that we did put in play,” Flores said. “We understand that this is baseball, failure is going to come. But when that hits, how can we overcome that adversity and keep competing.”
During the first half of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Wolverines’s early struggles continued. Through three innings, they had done nothing. Then, they finally scored against the Cornhuskers thanks to a pair of walks, a passed ball, and a fielder’s choice RBI.
Michigan would tack on another, but the story of game two was sophomore right-hander Cameron Weston. He more than made up for the quiet offensive performance, pitching seven scoreless innings. His excellence pushed his team over the hump and propelled them to an even series.
Weston’s offense may not have given him much support, but like Flores, his mindset remains unchanged.
“We were hitting balls hard, I don’t have any concern for it moving forward,” Weston said. “We feel prepared. We feel like we’ll play our best baseball, whenever the lights turn on. We’re pretty confident. Whatever happens, happens.”
In the second half of the doubleheader, the Wolverines had an opportunity to erase their offensive shortcomings and steal the series. They did not come through. For the first eight innings of the game, they were shut out.
However, down five, Michigan remained steady. In the top of the ninth, fifth-year third baseman Christian Molfetta singled through the left side and drove home fifth-year catcher Griffin Mazur. Then came the aforementioned Obertop home run, the final gasp in their comeback effort. Despite falling by two runs, the Wolverine bats stayed optimistic.
“I think that just shows everyone how our level of compete really is,” Flores said. “We compete no matter if it’s five to nothing, eight to nothing. Whatever the score is, we’re still going to have the same mentality to put good at-bats together. That was what was shown at the end of the game. That just shows everyone what we’re capable of doing.”
As the regular season concludes and the postseason nears, Michigan must get more consistency from their lineup if they are to make a deep run. Otherwise, they will need to rely on stellar performances from starting pitchers like Weston.