Fresh off a disappointing loss to Illinois — which snapped a nine-game winning streak — the No. 13 Michigan baseball team will look to get back to winning ways when it takes the field against Eastern Michigan.
The Eagles (4-2, Mid-American Conference, 12-19 overall) have won eight of their last 11 games entering Tuesday afternoon’s contest, with the most notable being a 4-3 victory over Michigan State.
While Eastern Michigan has shown flashes of good play this season, the Eagles shouldn’t pose much of a threat to Michigan (6-3 Big Ten, 25-7 overall). The Wolverines may have just had a winning streak halted, but they are still dominant on offense.
Michigan currently has six players batting over .300, while the Eagles’ closest player to that mark is infielder John Montgomery. He’s batting .295 and leads the team in hits and runs batted-in with 33 and 22, respectively.
But with junior right-hander Jayce Vancena on the mound for the Wolverines, Eastern Michigan may have a hard time plating runs. Vancena boasts a 1.88 earned-run average through 24 innings. He may not have many strikeouts on the season, but he has yet to walk a batter all year and has confidence that his teammates can defend behind him.
“That’s something that myself and a lot of the pitchers take pride in,” Vancena said. “Just throwing strikes and throwing down in the zone, making it tough of the hitters to hit and let our defense work behind us.
“This year, the coaches have a lot more trust, a lot more belief, and with that, it makes myself more confident in my stuff and the way I pitch.”
The Eagles’ pitching staff is much less efficient than Michigan’s, combining for an overall ERA of 5.71. While Eastern Michigan has just two regular starters, as opposed to the common three, its pitching rotation has a lot of experience for that reason.
However, the Eagles’ pitching staff has allowed 332 hits on the season, while Michigan has surrendered just 238. And with the Wolverines’ bats already hot, they may look to capitalize on the Eagles’ weaknesses.
The Wolverines will likely aim to come out strong from the first pitch, Michigan has recently struggled with falling into a hole early. The midweek matchup may be the perfect opportunity for the Wolverines to bounce back from the loss to the Fighting Illini and regain its confidence.
“For us to be the best team 151 we can possibly be and to achieve the goals we’ve set out, we’ve got to be sharper from the first pitch on,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich.