Typically, baseball drama comes in the form of a walk-off hit, a major comeback or a strikeout late in a game. But this weekend, Michigan experienced something new: scheduling drama.
The Friday game, the first of a three-game series against Maryland (3-5 Big Ten, 16-19 overall), saw no issues for the Wolverines in any way, as they beat down on the Terrapins in a 10-4 win. With Saturday, though, new issues arose for the surging Wolverines (8-0, 21-11).
Even though the temperature was hovering around 70 degrees Thursday, Saturday’s combination of near-freezing temperatures and rain created unwelcoming playing conditions. The game was postponed until Sunday, setting up a doubleheader.
“We can’t control it so there’s no sense getting frustrated about it,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “The weather, especially in Michigan, is just one of those things that you know that you’re gonna battle the elements here.”
Similar problems arose again on Sunday, though, and instead of playing the doubleheader, the Wolverines experienced a weather delay for over four hours before finally getting in only one weather-shortened game. Maryland had to catch a flight home at 10:00 p.m. so the game, which ultimately began at 5:18, was played with the stipulation that no new inning could begin after 7:45 p.m.
Despite the massive delay, Michigan came out firing, as it put up four runs and batted through the lineup twice in just the first three innings. Ultimately a 6-3 victory in eight innings brought the Wolverines’ win streak to 17.
“Fortunately for us, we train outside in much worse, so when we have adverse conditions like today we can thrive in them,” Bakich said. “Our guys just didn’t seem phased. They didn’t seem phased by the delays, they didn’t seem phased by the conditions. If anything, they think it’s an advantage.”
Freshman left-hander Ben Dragani tossed six innings of two-run baseball, continuing his dominant stretch as a starter. Dragani, who is from Wisconsin, echoed his coach’s sentiments, adding that he is used to playing in poor conditions.
“In Wisconsin, high school baseball isn’t (played in) the best weather,” Dragani said. “It’s raining, it’s cold, below freezing a lot. We had games a lot where it was snowing, so having those experiences really helped that factor like, you’ve done it before, it’s nothing new.”
Freshman first baseman Jesse Franklin also continued his recent success, as he went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run on Sunday after going 2-for-3 with a home run Friday.
Like Dragani, Franklin — who is from the state of Washington — played through unusual baseball weather during his high school career and was well prepared to play in games with conditions similar to Sunday.
“Today was just kinda of about making sure I stayed mentally ready to play,” Franklin said. “I’m kind of used to that from Seattle and high school ball, like all the time it’s raining and you don’t know if you’re gonna play all day.”
Bakich made sure to emphasize the weather did not have any impact on the team’s performance. Rather, it was waiting to play and being in the dark as to when the game would start that impacted the team. Michigan, though, was ready for the challenge and handled the situation well.
“We got ready, and then at game time at four o’clock it wasn’t ready and so we had to wait another hour and 15 minutes,” Bakich said. “So all of that is what the adversity was and I thought our guys responded well.”