Like a kid in a candy store, Michigan coach Erik Bakich knew he would get something good with whichever pitcher he brought to the mound during the Wolverines’ four-game sweep against Canisius.
No. 15 Michigan (4-0) outscored the Golden Griffins (0-4), 27-5, over the weekend, en route to its first 4-0 start since the 2009 season.
Despite flashes of excellence at the plate, the series was headlined by the Wolverine pitching staff’s dominance. Between all four games, the Wolverines debuted 13 different hurlers, including three freshmen, and just one of the five runs allowed was an earned run.
“They all looked to be in attack mode and they all competed very hard,” Bakich said. “Our entire team and our coaching staff are very pleased, not only with the three freshmen but with all of the pitchers.”
Junior left-hander Brett Adcock started the first game of the series, and he showed why he was named to the College Sports Madness Preseason Big Ten First Team, tossing 5.1 innings of three-hit, no-run baseball. Adcock also struck out seven batters on his way to picking up the 9-0 win.
“Going into the first weekend of the year, you want to start the first day off with a win, and we did that Friday,” Adcock said.
In the Wolverines’ first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, sophomore right-hander Ryan Nutof threw four innings, not giving up a hit and allowing only one unearned run in the 6-2 victory.
Sophomore left-hander Michael Hendrickson relieved Nutof and kept Canisius hitless until the sixth inning, fanning five of the nine batters he faced. Hendrickson gave up the lone earned run to the Golden Griffins in the seventh inning.
In the second game of the doubleheader, it appeared that senior left-hander Evan Hill was going to be the first starting pitcher to have difficulty against Canisius bats. But with the bases loaded and one out in the first inning, Hill struck out a batter and forced a pop out to escape the inning unscathed. Hill also allowed runners to get to third base in the third and fourth innings, but managed to end both with strikeouts without giving up a run.
Hill’s contributions, alongside the relief efforts of freshman left-hander William Tribucher, junior right-hander Mac Lozer and sophomore right-hander Bryan Pall, combined to strike out 12 batters for a 3-0 win — the second shutout of the series.
In the series’ final game, sophomore left-hander Oliver Jaskie got the nod. Jaskie, who started only one game last season, was electrifying in his season debut, tossing six innings while allowing just three hits and putting nine batters down on strikes. He was also named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for the impressive outing.
With the game out of reach, Bakich turned to junior right-hander Keith Lehmann, freshman right-hander Jack Bredeson and junior left-hander Carmen Benedetti, who surrendered no hits, to close out the final three innings.
“The whole staff is able to show it can get efficient contact and get outs,” Adcock said. “That’s your starting point and you want us to work up to where we don’t have to worry about tiny mistakes. The defense definitely helped me out when I struggled.”
Adcock may have believed that he made mistakes on the mound, but the scoreboard would tell another story. Michigan’s pitching was the crux of a dominant four-game sweep, and will bode well for the Wolverines if they want to maintain a high level of play.