Wolverines sweep Sooners with sixth-inning rally
Junior centerfielder Johnny Slater started what would become a five-run rally in the sixth inning with a hard-hit double to left field.
Behind that high-scoring frame, the No. 13 Michigan baseball team (6-3 Big Ten, 29-7 overall) earned a 6-2 victory Sunday to sweep its non-conference adversary No. 18 Oklahoma (5-4 Big 12, 27-12 overall).
After a scoreless first inning for both teams, the Sooners got on the board first with a duo of singles off junior right-hander Alec Rennard in the bottom of the 2nd inning.
Michigan was quick to respond, though, with a run in the third. After sophomore right fielder Jonathan Engelmann singled to left-center field, senior catcher Harrison Wenson walked and, with an infield hit from sophomore second baseman Ako Thomas, the bases were loaded. Junior centerfielder Johnny Slater launched a sacrifice fly into the outfield to bring Engelmann home from third to tie the game, 1-1.
Neither team produced runs in the fourth or fifth innings, highlighted by groundouts and flyouts.
“The conditions played a factor,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “You knew there weren’t going to be any long balls today with the wind howling in. So it was going to be a game that probably was going to come down to some two-out hits, some situational hitting, some bunting, some stealing, pitching and defense.”
When Slater doubled off the left-field wall in the bottom of the sixth inning, senior shortstop Michael Brdar followed it up with a double of his own to give the Wolverines baserunners on 2nd and 3rd. After intentionally walking redshirt sophomore left fielder Miles Lewis, Oklahoma hit junior first baseman Jake Bivens by a pitch for the second time to send Slater home for Michigan’s first run of the frame.
Sophomore designated hitter Nick Poirier then forced a walk, sending Brdar home. With a two-run lead already in hand, Engelmann singled to left field to send two more runs in. Wenson finished up the scoring with a sac fly to left field, forcing Poirier home to give the Wolverines a 6-1 lead.
Junior right hander Jayce Vancena relieved Rennard in the top of the seventh inning, but as Oklahoma tacked on a run on an RBI double from catcher Brady Lindsly, Bakich substituted senior right hander Mac Lozer in. He would go on to retire the side on two groundouts.
“I’m glad I could be there for my guys,” Lozer said. “We took three games away from a really competitive and really good Oklahoma team.”
While the Sooners were missing some pivotal characters from their squad, such as Jake Irvin, who boasts a 1.30 earned-run average over 34.2 innings pitched, the Wolverines have to be pleased with three wins over a highly-touted opponent.