That is the word that can best be used to describe the surging Michigan baseball team, now owners of a season-high five-game winning streak.
After dismantling an abysmal three-win Oakland team 10-3 on Tuesday, the Wolverines came out victorious against Western Michigan 7-6 on Wednesday afternoon in a dog-fight of a game that was not without drama.
Six early runs put Michigan in a deep hole after just two innings of play. The Wolverines, however, fought hard and put up a five-spot in the third inning. The score stayed that way until the ninth inning, when a rampant Michigan rally culminated in a walk-off single courtesy of junior second baseman Ako Thomas.
“I feel like earlier in the year we would have just broken down,” Thomas said. “Now I feel like we are a lot better team and we have a lot more confidence.”
Thomas is not far off with his analysis. Before the win streak began, the Wolverines held a meager 4-11 record and were in the basement of the Big Ten.
Michigan was 0-6 in games decided by three runs or fewer and, according to head coach Erik Bakich, the players were not as enthusiastic during games as he expected them to be. Now, though, everything has changed.
The Wolverines have won four of their five games over the course of their win streak by three or fewer runs, including overcoming another six-run deficit against Bowling Green on Friday in addition to the comeback against the Broncos.
“It certainly feels a lot different now in the dugout, on the field and just the way the guys are competing,” Bakich said. “It’s kind of a 180, it’s just night and day from when we were talking a week ago, after the Wednesday loss (to Lawrence Tech), to now.
“Credit to the players for being able to recognize that the effort and the enthusiasm and just the competitive level needed to be raised and they raised it. The byproduct is (a) win on the field.”
Michigan’s ability to battle through adversity has marked a shift in the team’s season and, especially with Big Ten play officially beginning this weekend, the Wolverines will need to use the comeback victory as a springboard into their upcoming series against Michigan State.
“Just going off the momentum we got, now we can go off this win as well,” Thomas said. “It’s very important going into the Michigan State series.”
Looking past this upcoming weekend, Michigan will have a good opportunity to extend its hot streak. The Wolverines got relatively lucky in terms of scheduling, as they will play five of their eight Big Ten series against teams in the bottom half of the current conference standings.
Michigan, however, is also still in the bottom half of the standings and will need to maintain this newfound resilient mentality in order to maintain its current form and climb the standings.
“We’re pumped, we’re ready for it,” Thomas said. “We’re gonna take this momentum and we’re gonna ride it, we’re gonna ride it out.”