Many baseball teams rely on a small handful of players to make an impact. Whether it be an ace starting pitcher, a first-round pick in center field, or a veteran catcher, most clubs have certain spark plugs.
The Michigan baseball team denounces this notion. Instead of concentrating their faith in a few players, they rely on the entire roster.
Two weeks ago, fifth-year infielder Christian Molfetta had a rough weekend against Rutgers, recording only one hit in three games. This mini-slump did not deter Michigan coach Eric Bakich’s confidence in his star batter, though. He kept Molfetta at the top of the lineup and the results did not disappoint. In four games against Illinois, Molfetta was unstoppable, with eight hits, seven RBI’s and eight runs scored. For Bakich, statistics will never rule over quality at-bats.
“We just don’t look at it that way,” Bakich said. “He actually is still one of our leaders in quality at-bats during that time, he just didn’t get the results. It’s all how you look at it. He was still hitting the ball hard.”
Fifth-year outfielder Christian Bullock is one of the selfless leaders who value the Wolverines’ team success over personal stats. His role has fluctuated this spring, but his determination has remained steady. He could bat leadoff or hit in the nine-hole. Either way, he’s happy to help.
“It doesn’t matter, as long as I’m playing,” Bullock said. “I don’t really look at the number I’m hitting as long as I’m hitting. I’m gonna get up there three or four times (with) this lineup, so it doesn’t really matter.”
Michigan’s versatility does not stop with its lineup. Its defense — particularly fifth-year shortstop Benjamin Sems — has been fantastic this year.
“Our defense is highlighted by Ben Sems,” Bakich said. “He’s his own personal highlight reel. He’s as good of a shortstop as there is in college baseball. I’m just glad he’s on our team.”
This past weekend, the Wolverines saw some usual faces in unfamiliar places. Redshirt sophomore Jordon Rogers has seen a fair amount of time in center, but against the Illini, he was needed behind the plate. In the final game of the series, he even played second base for Bertram.
Michigan has provided Bakich with the freedom to explore new lineups, defensive combinations, and the reassurance that no matter who is batting, they can provide a quality at-bat. Despite this, the Wolverines will have to tighten a few screws in the final weeks of the season.
“We’re gonna need to be more consistent,” Bakich said. “The Big Ten title race is wide open. If we’re going to be competitive in that, then we need to be more consistent in how we play.”