On paper, the Michigan baseball team’s loss to Michigan State on Tuesday looked about as ugly as it gets.
Junior left-handed pitcher Brett Adcock, who led the team in earned-run average before the game, was tagged for three runs without recording an out. Junior Mac Lozer had only allowed three runs all year, but Tuesday, he allowed five during his 0.2 innings of work. Three errors didn’t help Michigan’s cause either.
After Michigan State scored eight runs in the sixth inning, the Wolverines were down, 10-2, and ended up with their worst defeat of the season, 11-5.
Michigan (3-2 Big Ten, 22-9 overall) squandered another opportunity to prove it will compete for the Big Ten title this season. It was the third loss in a row for the Wolverines, and they now have lost six games in their last seven tries against teams with a winning record.
When the team was rolling and in the midst of a nine-game win streak following a road sweep of Northwestern — reaching a rank of No. 17 in Baseball America — the Wolverines did not look up at their national ranking or their tourney prospects. After each practice and game, Michigan coach Erik Bakich has emphasized to his team that they have only one focus: tomorrow.
So after Tuesday’s defeat, and a drop to 45th in the RPI rankings, the same mindset applied.
“We’ve certainly had our share of adversity the last seven days,” Bakich said. “The good thing is we get a new opportunity tomorrow.”
A lackluster stretch of games has not left the Wolverines depleted. Fifth-year senior outfielder Matt Ramsay noted that before Wednesday’s contest against Eastern Michigan, several players were at the ballpark early getting extra swings in.
“We took an approach saying, ‘No way in the world we’re going to get beat today,’ ” Ramsay said.
Their determined attitude paid off on Wednesday, resulting in a 19-3 win. The home crowd saw eight runs in the first three innings and a return to form for the pitching staff. Though Michigan has looked good in many contests this season, Bakich notes that it’s the first time that it has put up so many runs so early in the game.
Eastern Michigan is a team that had recently pulled off upsets against Michigan State and Purdue, but the Wolverines sent a message on Wednesday that they could rebound and play the kind of baseball that has been expected of a preseason top-25 contender.
Junior catcher Harrison Wenson showed off his arm, throwing out the Eagles’ Marquise Gill, who is third in the country in steals. Ramsay added to his team lead in stolen bases, swiping two bags in the first inning to get the Wolverines on the board early. And Michigan was able to string together hits, scoring four or more runs in three separate innings.
With the win, the Wolverines once again will look to tomorrow, leaving the 19 runs in the past. This time, tomorrow provides another opportunity to send a message. Nebraska (7-2 Big Ten, 22-11 overall) swept Michigan last year, and has won each of its three conference series so far.
The Wolverines’ day-by-day mentality has them focusing on getting better, and they hope to do so before their home series this weekend. Senior outfielder Cody Bruder says that the team will be at the field early again, back at it in the batting cage.
“(Bakich) is relentless, he’s got constant energy, and I think our team really picks up on that,” Ramsay said. “Pedal to the metal, non-stop, 100 percent of the time. That’s the nature of our team.”