In the top of the sixth inning on Sunday, Angelo Smith walked into the worst possible situation for a pitcher: bases loaded, nobody out.
At least one run for Binghamton (0-3) seemed all but certain to everyone but the sophomore left-hander. Smith struck out his first two batters on six pitches and got his third batter to ground out on the next pitch to escape the jam.
The No. 17 Michigan baseball team’s pitchers shut down the Bearcats this weekend in its season-opening series. Five of this weekend’s hurlers are still holding onto a perfect 0.00 earned run average. The Wolverines kept the Binghamton confused all weekend, holding it to six runs on the series. Michigan swept all three games, winning 10-0 on Friday, 5-4 on Saturday and 12-2 on Sunday.
“Our three starters, Tommy Henry, Karl Kauffman and Jeff Criswell all gave us very solid outings and did a really good job of minimizing free passes,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “All of them did a great job of attacking the strike zone.”
One particularly strong performance came from Tommy Henry, who started the Wolverines’ first game of 2019 on Friday. The junior left-hander held Binghamton to six hits and no runs over a dominant six innings of work, striking out nine in the process.
Michigan also saw strong performances in shorter-inning stretches from its bullpen. Redshirt freshman right-hander Isaiah Paige allowed only a single hit and no runs over three innings of work out of the bullpen on Friday. Freshman right-hander Willie Weiss earned his first career save in his first collegiate outing for the Wolverines. He struck out the side to end Saturday’s nail-biting contest and seal Michigan’s come-from-behind victory.
“Striking out the side in his one inning on Saturday, Willie really showed some electric stuff,” Bakich said. “It was really great to see.”
Michigan’s pitching was so dominant that many of the hurlers got little or no work over the course of the weekend. Some of them will have to pitch in a scrimmage this week to reach their target number of innings pitched and stay on pace for the season-long goals set for them by the coaching staff, according to Bakich.
Though fewer of this year’s pitchers have in-game experience on the season so far, the Wolverines’ arms will be plenty rested for next weekend as the team heads down to Charleston, S.C. to face the Citadel. Many of the pitchers also have college experience behind them from previous seasons, so with almost a week’s rest before their next game, the pitching staff will look to put out another weekend of shutout work.
“We certainly feel great about our veteran pitching staff,” Bakich said. “That they were able to give us three quality starts on the weekend – it was great to see.”