After weeks of travel, Michigan is clearly energized to be back home again.
In the second game of its home-opening series, the Wolverines completely overwhelmed Manhattan College, 23-2, with strong hitting and a consistent ability to capitalize on the Jaspers’ many mistakes.
The domination began early as Michigan jumped on Manhattan's weak pitching, which couldn’t even break 70 mph at times. In a breakout second inning, the Wolverines scored five runs thanks in no small part to the Jaspers' significant error trouble. Early on in the bottom of the inning, nearly half of Jasper Joe Chionchio’s pitches were bouncing to the plate, and the umpire called ball after ball.
Fielding errors, which practically became a Manhattan trademark by the end of the game, helped Michigan further widen its margin by two runs on a single down the left side from junior Jordan Brewer. A transfer from Lincoln Trail Community College, Brewer has proven valuable to the Wolverines so far this season, and his skill in both fielding and pitching was on vivid display against the Jaspers.
“I felt great after so many repetitions and so much early work with the team,” Brewer said. “The results finally came through.”
The third inning, which lasted nearly an hour, was even more painful for Manhattan. Early on, a single from sophomore Jack Blomgren, who went a 5-for-5 on the day with five runs batted in, sent two runners home. Then, thanks to four consecutive walks, the bases were loaded yet again. Brewer capitalized and fired a grand slam home run out to left field, widening Michigan’s lead to 13-0.
“There’s a lot of value in putting the barrel on the ball and putting the pressure on,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “And that was very evident today.
“Especially in today's conditions, with the field so wet and slick, it was great to see guys throughout the line up producing again. We had a lot of production from all areas up and down the order.”
The Wolverines’ pitching, true to its form so far this season, put relentless pressure on Manhattan’s batters. Karl Kaufmann threw 48 strikes out of 71 total pitches over the first five innings.
“I felt really good about the pitching,” Bakich said. “With fewer days of rest than last week, Karl gave us exactly what we needed to start off.”
Bakich took advantage of the Wolverines’ massive lead to bring out some less-often seen pitchers. The score standing at 15-0, freshman Jack White relieved Karl Kaufmann, making his career debut in the top of the sixth. It was the quickest half-inning yet as he was helped out by Brewer’s coverage in right field –– an added complement to his game-long dominance at the plate.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Jaspers fell only further into the hole as a series of singles and doubles combined with a bonus wild pitch added another six runs to Michigan’s tally.
In a sign of the game’s extraordinary nature, redshirt junior Joe Pace, normally a pinch hitter for the Wolverines, followed Jack Bredeson on the mound in the eighth to make his own career pitching debut.
“I thought those first four relievers were fantastic,” Bakich said. “Coming in and not surrendering any hits was great to see, especially with those guys making their season pitching debuts and even Michigan debuts.”
After six innings of nearly-incessant concessions, Manhattan's pitching held Michigan to only two runs in the seventh and eighth. In the ninth, they even managed to bring two runners home in order to avoid a complete shutout. But it was far too late for any difference to be made.
As Michigan’s score climbed and climbed, Manhattan was longing for a respite. Unlike Thursday, there were no tornadoes to provide one.