Fifth-year outfielder Christian Bullock slapped a ground ball up the middle, where the shortstop fumbled it. The bases were loaded with no one out for the top of the Wolverine order in the seventh, with sophomore outfielders Clark Elliott and Tito Flores coming to plate. After Elliott worked the count to 3-and-0, Michigan finally looked like it might get back in the game.
But Elliott went down looking after three straight strikes, and Flores — arguably the Wolverines’ most productive hitter on the day — grounded softly into a double play to end the threat with no runs scored. The failure to produce with runners on base plagued Michigan all day against Central Michigan and ultimately sunk the Wolverines in a season-ending 8-2 defeat.
Michigan struggled to string together timely hits with runners on base. The Wolverines recorded nine total hits but all of their runs came via the home run with two solo shots.
“Not only did we not string the hits together,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “There was one inning where we strung a couple of hits together, and then missed the scoring opportunity with the bases loaded and nobody out, that was huge.”
On a day where the wind was blowing out, carrying a lot of routine fly balls near or over the wall, the offense was on display for both teams — they racked up a combined 20 hits. Yet, the Wolverines struggled to break through and plate runs, even though they hit much better than they had the game before.
“We had nine hits but (weren’t) getting them back to back and getting the big hit,” Bakich said. “Two home runs today but they were solo shots. (It) would have been nice to have those (homers) with runners on and we just didn’t string them together, just didn’t do it.”
The Chippewa pitchers did an excellent job of throwing strikes all game, allowing no walks and no hit by pitches — muting the effect of the hits Michigan had.
“They had pretty good pitchers,” sophomore infielder Jimmy Obertop said. “We just needed to compete a little more. We’ve worked so hard, prepared for these moments, it just didn’t go our way today.”
The Wolverines went 2-for-11 with runners on base and picked up no extra-base hits or RBI with runners on base.
“We really don’t have any excuses,” Bakich said. “We didn’t hit well enough to be a factor in this regional.”
In the end, Michigan hitters went cold at the worst time, ending the Wolverines’ season.
“The way we prepared, we worked so hard this year,” Obertop said. “It’s a bummer, the way it ended. Our bats just went cold at the wrong time. Obviously you can’t plan for that. We’ve just worked so hard, and it just did not go the way we wanted.”