A tale of two seasons: Michigan baseball

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - 8:43pm

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Alec Cohen/Daily

It was a turbulent season for the Michigan baseball team.

The Wolverines started 8-0, but then a troublesome California trip brought them back to the ground with back-to-back losses. When they had a 13-game win streak, they were swept by Texas Tech — a series that presented perhaps their biggest test of the season. And when they recouped to gain a hand on the regular season Big Ten title, they lost their hold in the final two weeks.

Most of all, on May 22nd, it looked like their season was over — ending in a disappointment. 

There was no chance the NCAA tournament selection committee would choose a defeated Wolverine side that had lost five of its last seven regular season games and faltered in the Big Ten Tournament.

But on May 23rd, Michigan was born again. It made an underdog run to the National Championship series, proving doubters wrong until June 25th.

There’s no way to look back at the Wolverines’ season in any way other than two splits: before and after May 23rd. 

Before, it was similar to 2018: a team packed with talent that fell victim to momentum. This year, Michigan had the most players awarded honors by the Big Ten — three first-team, one second-team, four third-team and one All-Freshman selection. 

Sophomore designed hitter Jordan Nwogu went on a streak of 20 games averaging a near .500 on-base percentage. Criswell had a sub-0.50 earned-run average for the first half of the Big Ten season. The Wolverines were good, but when it mattered most, they had lost all momentum. 

And then with what could have been their last pitch of their season in the Big Ten Tournament, Nwogu saved it with a double. It gave Michigan momentum, but even more importantly, it gave them a belief that they could overcome setbacks. A ninth-inning collapse, mistakes in extra innings — it didn’t matter because the Wolverines had figured out something that took them two years to learn: they were good and they could win. 

Jimmy Kerr hit seven of his 15 home runs in the 16 games since May 23rd. Jack Blomgren played through a broken finger. Christan Bullock finally got a starting spot, producing offense for the bottom half of the lineup. 

A tale of two seasons, Michigan’s 153rd team managed to show its true self in just a month, finishing as one of the best teams in Wolverine baseball history.