Against Central Michigan on Tuesday, the then-No. 20 Michigan baseball team needed timely and quick baserunning to pick up the victory. But at times in the Wolverines’ three-game series against Northwestern this weekend, the batting order didn’t have to do much running at all.
This was especially true for fifth-year senior left fielder Matt Ramsay, whose play last weekend warranted a selection as Big Ten Co-Player of the Week with Minnesota’s Matt Fiedler.
Ramsay spent most of his time jogging around the bases in the second game of Friday’s doubleheader, hitting a career-high three home runs in Michigan’s 12-3 victory. Prior to the series against the Wildcats (1-5 Big Ten, 7-21 overall), Michigan (3-0, 20-5) had just six home runs as a team all season.
To go along with his three homers, he finished the day with five hits in six at-bats, seven runs batted-in and four runs — all single-game season-highs for any Wolverine batter thus far.
But it wasn’t just Ramsay who was enjoying the performance.
“After the second (home run) they gave me the silent treatment in the dugout,” Ramsay said. “I put my stuff down and then they mobbed me. After my third one, I was met by (Wenson) at the plate and he just said, ‘Who are you? What is going on right now?’ They were great.”
Added Michigan coach Erik Bakich: “I haven’t seen a game like that since I was a player. I haven’t seen it in 20 years. It’s a memorable day and one he’ll never forget. The contributions he’s made have been outstanding.”
Aside from Ramsay’s success in the series’ second game, Northwestern also had trouble keeping him off of the basepaths in the other two games. Despite going 0-for-3 in the opener, Ramsay still managed to get on base three times as a result of two walks and a fielding error. In Sunday’s game, Ramsay remained disciplined at the plate, collecting two walks and an infield single to get him to first base three times again. Throughout the weekend, Ramsay got on base 11 times in 17 plate appearances and scored eight runs.
Ramsay’s ability to get on base was crucial to setting up the middle of the order to drive in runs, namely junior catcher Harrison Wenson and junior center fielder Cody Bruder.
Wenson got to showcase his power once again, going 6-for-12 in the series with 10 RBI, including three extra-base hits, while Bruder had his best offensive performance of the season during Sunday’s game. Bruder went 3-for-5 and plated a game-high four RBI in the Wolverines’ 11-9 win.
But Bruder was overshadowed by Ramsay’s electrifying weekend.
“We didn’t let the (opposing) pitching staff take a breath, and that's the mark of a high-quality offense,” Ramsay said.
Ramsay’s career day was emblematic of Michigan’s potent offense against Northwestern, which was dominant in all facets. As a whole, the batting order combined to score 33 runs on 43 hits, 21 of which came in game two of Friday’s doubleheader.
At the beginning of the season, the pitching staff had to anchor an inconsistent offense. But the Wolverines have been clicking in all phases of the game as of late, and their recent power surge on offense has carried them to its best 25-game start since 1987.