The regular season is beginning to wind down, but the No. 19 Michigan baseball team’s roster is starting to heat up. Just this week, junior Carmen Benedetti was named the Big Ten Player of the Week after finishing the week with a .571 batting average and a 1.000 slugging percentage.
Benedetti, a left-handed pitcher, infielder and outfielder for the Wolverines, notched a hit in every game of the weekend series sweep against Rutgers.
“I’m just thankful to be at this University,” Benedetti said. “We’re just focusing on the next game, always. We are a solid team. We’ll see what happens (going forward).”
Michigan coach Erik Bakich has made it clear this season that these accolades don’t distract the Wolverines, evident by the humbleness of Benedetti. Rather, Bakich preaches that the recognition for any individual player, or the team as a whole, is just that — recognition of hard work.
And Michigan, along with Benedetti, has shown time and again that hard work has been paying off.
After winning all five of their last home games, the Wolverines are looking to continue their victorious streak in their first road game since Michigan’s defeat in East Lansing against the Spartans.
The Wolverines (12-5 Big Ten, 34-12 overall) will be traveling to Mount Pleasant for a non-conference matchup against Central Michigan (8-10 Mid-American, 15-33) in the Chippewas third annual Prostate Cancer Awareness game, which is aimed at fundraising through representatives of the Prostate Cancer Understanding Prevention and Screening Foundation. Since the foundation’s inception three years ago, it has already raised more than $100,000.
The last time both teams met this season was March 29, when Michigan bested Central Michigan, 9-7.
The Wolverines have a 13-8 road record, while the Chippewas have garnered an even 6-6 home record. Also in Michigan’s favor is the fact that Central Michigan has not won more than two consecutive games so far this season and the Chippewas just defeated Oakland, 6-3, on Monday.
There are currently five players on the Wolverines’ roster who are batting over .300, pushing the team to an overall .317 batting average, good for ninth in the country and second in the Big Ten. Other impressive statistics include four starters with an on-base percentage over .400. Benedetti ranks second in the conference with a .484, while Michigan ranks best in the conference for its on-base percentage. .
Sophomore infielder Jake Bivens leads the Wolverines with a .382 batting average and a season total of 73 hits.
“He’s a catalyst, he’s a leader,” Bakich said. “He’s always trying to get on base, and he’s always trying to have quality at-bats. With his speed and the pressure he has on other teams, our offense is better with him.”
Added Bivens: “I think a lot of guys are stepping up. (Experience) is really important around now late in the season. This time last year, I was tired. This year, I know how to handle it, and the experience is helping both me and my team go a long way.”
Leading the pitching staff is junior left-hander Brett Adcock, who tossed six innings with 11 strikeouts in his start against Rutgers. Adcock currently ranks sixth all time in Michigan history with a career total of 234 strikeouts. Senior left-hander Evan Hill follows closely behind with 199, ranking 13th all-time for the Wolverines.
But the season isn’t over. In fact, it’s far from it.
“As the season evolves, you want the team to improve,” Bakich said. “Now the challenge is to keep that level of consistency and that mindset of wanting to get better.”