Despite losing its final two series and crashing to third place in the Big Ten, the Michigan baseball team managed to clinch a postseason berth and will play at least two more games this year.
The NCAA selection committee assigned the Wolverines to the South Bend regional, where they will compete against host Notre Dame, Connecticut and Central Michigan. Michigan’s first game will be against the Huskies June 4 at 7 p.m.
The Wolverines were one of the last four teams in, according to the committee.
The double-elimination regional will begin Friday, June 4 and conclude Monday, June 7, with the winner advancing to the super regional round.
Players will spend the week participating in low-volume, high-intensity practices meant to keep their skills sharp. Michigan will devote all its attention to the game against Connecticut, instead of trying to prepare for opponents they might face later in the weekend. Its focus is so singular that Michigan coach Erik Bakich dubbed the regional “the Connecticut regional.”
“You can only take these things one game at a time,” Bakich said. “The regionals are so hard to navigate through, because you can’t predict what’s going to happen and you don’t know how many games you’re going to play.”
The Wolverines don’t feel like they’ve played their best baseball yet. They’re hoping to reach their peak performance in the most important games of the year.
“We’ve been competing the whole year,” sophomore left fielder Tito Flores said. “Now we’re just waiting for it to all come together, and it’s an exciting time to do it now.”
Added Bakich: “This is the time of year where you want to get hot, and the teams that advance at this time of year are the ones that do, because everybody’s good.”
The Huskies may be Michigan’s toughest matchup of the season. Led by Kyler Fedko (.411 average, 12 homers), Connecticut’s offense hits for average and power. Setup man Randy Polonia (2.13 ERA) and closer Caleb Wurster (1.64 ERA) are its best pitchers, but the Huskies’ starting rotation is also talented.
“We will certainly have to minimize our mistakes and not beat ourselves, and go into this weekend playing our best baseball,” Bakich said. “We’re going to need it to get through Connecticut and all those teams in that regional.”