Wildcat woes help Wolverines to weekend sweep
That’s how many the Michigan baseball team scored off Northwestern mistakes this weekend.
The Wolverines put runners on base with walks and hit-by-pitches, advanced those runners on wild pitches and stolen bases and kept them alive on fielders’ choices and errors. In a weekend series that was closer than anticipated at times, much of the Wolverines’ success came when they were able to capitalize on their opponents’ mistakes.
“You take anything you can get, whether it’s a walk, or an error – anything,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “You just try to do whatever you can to get on base and put pressure on the other team. It’s why there’s such a high importance of battling with two strikes, because when you put it in play, that’s what could happen. A guy could make an error, and you could get yourself on base.
“And a lot of times, just being aggressive and putting pressure on the other team can force errors. So, just by being aggressive, we got some huge opportunities today.”
In Saturday’s 4-1 game, just two of Michigan’s four runs were earned. The first was from sophomore shortstop Jack Blomgren, who reached base on a walk before scoring on a throwing error from Wildcats second baseman Shawn Goosenberg.
The first game of Sunday’s doubleheader saw more of the same. After advancing to second when Blomgren walked and moving to third on a fielders’ choice, sophomore designated hitter Jordan Nwogu scored on a fielding error from Northwestern third baseman Charlie Maxwell in the bottom of the first inning to put the Wolverines up, 1-0.
In the seventh inning, with the game tied at 2-2, the Wildcats’ errors again came back to haunt them. Junior centerfielder Christian Bullock walked to lead off the bottom of the inning. He then stole second and advanced to third base on a throwing error from Northwestern catcher Michael Trautwein before scoring the deciding run on a fielding error from Wildcat second baseman Alex Erro to bring the final score to 3-2.
“It just feels great scoring runs for this team, for the University of Michigan,” Bullock said. “To score the winning run today, it was just amazing.”
In Sunday’s second game, a 10-1 rout, Michigan finally overpowered Northwestern to run away with the series. They beat up the Wildcat pitchers for 10 runs on 14 hits, including senior third baseman Blake Nelson’s first home run of the season and a three-run shot from junior center fielder Christian Bullock. Both home runs came in the bottom of the second inning; Bullock added an RBI on the day with a single in the bottom of the eighth that scored senior catcher Matthew Schmidt.
As the team prepares for next weekend’s home series – another Big Ten matchup against a Rutgers team that’s won seven of its last 10 games and is fighting to stay in the race for the conference title – the Wolverines may not be able to rely as heavily on opponents’ mistakes.
But if they can keep finding ways on base – and ways to score – like they did this weekend, they’re looking like a tough team to beat.