It was the top of the second inning and the scoreboard read nothing but zeros.
Sophomore left-hander Tommy Henry had quickly retired the three batters he saw in the first and was standing tall on the mound.
Then disaster struck.
Bowling Green began racking up hit after hit. A poorly-timed blink could’ve forced the beholder to miss the Falcons race to a 6-0 lead. Henry eventually stopped the bleeding with two groundouts to first base and shortstop.
Sitting in the deep basement of a deficit is something the Michigan baseball team (5-11 overall) is used to this season, but this time, something was different. Morale remained high in the dugout.
However, the empowered Wolverines wouldn’t see any positive results from their positive energy until the third inning.
Michigan coach Erik Bakich maintained his faith in his starting pitcher and sent his ace back on the mound. Shrugging off the six earned runs he had just allowed, Henry made quick work of the next three batters in the order, sending the Wolverines back to the plate.
Michigan then matched a six-run inning from Bowling Green (3-14) with a six-run inning of its own, before pulling off a comeback 8-6 win.
The scoring began for the Wolverines off a defensive error made by the Falcons’ second baseman. The error was made on a ball hit by sophomore outfielder Dominic Clementi, allowing freshman Jack Blomgren and junior Ako Thomas to score.
Thomas had reached on a single which extended his streak of games where the infielder has safely reached the base to 16. In addition, Thomas went 3-for-4 from the plate and was instrumental to helping Michigan mount a comeback win.
“There’s been games this year where we’ve given up a big inning to the opposition and it felt like the guys were down and today,” Bakich said. “That feeling was not there. In fact, it was the opposite. We were playing fine on defense. A lot of those hits, they weren’t necessarily hard hits, they just got hit in the right spot and there was some luck to it.”
After tying the game up, the Wolverines sought to take the lead. After landing runners on second and third base, Blomgren hit a suicide squeeze in an attempt to send the runners home. The first reached easily, before the second, freshman Jordan Nwogu, raced to home plate. Sliding just in time, Nwogu reached the plate and extended Michigan’s lead to two.
Aside from making an incredibly athletic play, Nwogu was dynamite in his at-bats, going 2-for-3 with a double and two runs-batted-in. In a desperate time, Nwogu proved to be the spark that Michigan needed.
“His role in the game goes way beyond what you see in the books because he builds momentum and that’s not easy to do in your first career start,” Henry said. “So huge props to Jordan, that was incredible.”
This was Nwogu’s first career start and it came at just the right time. The Wolverines have had a disappointing start to the season and are looking for anything to help guide their resurgence. For this contest, that force was Nwogu.
“When you have such an embarrassing loss like we had on Wednesday, maybe the worst in program history, you’re looking to mix some things up even if it might not statistically make sense,” Bakich said. “A guy like Jordan Nwogu can come and spark the team.”
Now, the name of the game for Michigan needs to be consistency. This ailing squad has yet to string two wins together and needs to prove that Friday’s win was not a fluke.
“It’s good to see play good defense,” Bakich said. “It’s good to see us come from behind and flip the scoreboard, it’s good to see us — eight out of nine innings — put zeros on the board and it’s good to see guys execute offensively in certain spots.
So bringing that again, tomorrow and being consistent with his play will maybe allow us to come out on to tomorrow, but it all will be predicated on how we play.”