Graduate right-hander Joe Pace entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning. He tried to protect the Michigan baseball team’s two-run lead and sophomore right-hander Cameron Weston’s streak of 18.2 scoreless innings, but couldn’t do either, allowing a bases-clearing double and an RBI single. Those four runs proved enough for Rutgers to beat the Wolverines 4-2.
But those were all the runs the Scarlet Knights could score. Weston and junior left-hander Jack White largely shutdown the Rutgers offense — holding them scoreless in every inning besides the sixth. Their performances were the lone positives from Saturday’s game.
After two quality starts against Ohio State and Minnesota, Weston rode a streak of 13.2 scoreless innings entering the game, and he looked ready to add to that streak from the very first pitch. He opened the game with two perfect innings, keeping his pitches low in the strike zone and frequently reaching two-strike counts. He struck out three, including Scarlet Knights slugger Ryan Lasko, who has hit eight home runs so far this year, and got the other three to ground out.
“That was a quintessential Cam Weston start,” sophomore designated hitter Clark Elliott said. “He came in and gave us everything he’s got. The kid’s really talented, and he’s one of the best pitchers in the country.”
Weston’s early dominance didn’t last, as he started getting behind in counts and allowed three hits and three walks over the next three innings. But, he kept his composure and got out of jams with runners on base. In the fourth inning, Weston, fifth-year catcher Griffin Mazur and fifth-year shortstop Benjamin Sems teamed up for a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play that sapped Rutgers’ momentum.
After the four-run sixth inning, Michigan coach Erik Bakich turned to White in the seventh. White — who had given up at least one earned run in three straight relief appearances — more than rebounded. He pitched three scoreless innings, tied for the longest appearance in his Michigan career.
“Jack White’s performance was one of the few bright spots of the day,” Elliott said. “He was landing all of his pitches. His curveball was great, his changeup was great. That was really electric stuff.”
White almost exclusively limited hard contact and kept the ball in the infield. His offspeed pitches — particularly his mid to low-70s curveball — kept hitters off-balance, and he worked ahead in almost every count.
“That’s a big focus of our pitching coach, Coach Merriman,” White said. “He always hammers that point home, that if we’re pitching ahead it’s a lot easier to get outs. So that’s a big focus of our staff, and I was able to execute today.”
While the four-run sixth broke Weston’s streak of scoreless innings and denied White the chance to pitch for a win, their strong performances gave Michigan something positive to remember.
“He’s one of the best pitchers, not just in the conference but the country,” Bakich said of Weston. “So we’re very glad he’s on our team.”