- Marissa McClain/Daily
By Shannon Lynch, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 14, 2013
Most baseball players never get the chance to say they’ve hit a home run in the ballpark of the New York Mets, but junior outfielder Michael O’Neill can check that off his bucket list.
“It’s always a good feeling to hit a home run,” said O’Neill. “But to hit it in a professional ballpark is pretty cool.”
Added Michigan coach Erik Bakich: “To hit a home run — period — is tough to do, let alone to do it in a Major League ballpark. Mike O’Neill is a special talent and has great tools and it was good to see him really drive a ball into the left field.”
But he can’t check "Win a game in a major-league park" off of his list yet.
On Tuesday in Flushing, NY, solid at-bats from the likes of O’Neill and sophomore utility hitter Kyle Jusick just weren’t enough to make up for the Wolverines’ lackluster pitching against Seton Hall. Michigan fell 5-3 to the Pirates, after giving up two runs in the sixth inning.
It looked good for Michigan (12-9 Big Ten, 27-24 Overall) early in the game, even though Seton Hall (34-16) got on the board first. The Pirates scored after a wild pitch from junior right-hander Alex Lakatos in the second inning, but the Wolverines quickly answered in the bottom of the frame when freshman center fielder Jacob Cronenworth scored off a Jusick RBI.
O’Neill’s homer in the third gave Michigan the lead until the sixth inning. O’Neill is hitting .361 overall late in the season and leads the team in multi-hit games. He went 3-for-4 with a double, a home run and a run scored at Citi Field to extend his hitting streak to five games.
“I’m a better highball hitter than a lowball hitter, so I’m just trying to get pitches up in the zone,” O’Neill said. “Leave the ball deep, let her travel and hit the pitch.”
Combined, the Wolverines totaled seven hits and three runs in, after Jusick’s second RBI in the ninth, and Lakatos was tagged with the loss. He allowed four hits, two runs and walked four in 5.2 innings of play. Fifth-year senior and right-hander Chad Jasman, who last saw action on April 26 against Indiana, came in to relieve and let up four hits and a run in 1.1 frames.
“It wasn’t the case that we pitched poorly, but [Seton Hall’s] a bettering club that’s been together for a long time — everyone’s older, more experienced — and they’ve got a group of position players and a group of hitters that are very balanced,” Bakich said. “Usually experienced guys are not chased out of the zone and they did a good job of that tonight.”
Michigan’s pitching rotation will still be rested for the weekend, as the normal rotation of left-handers did not play today. Which will be important with a rotation that has a combined 3.92 ERA after today.
“We feel great because all our guys are going to be fresh and 100% going into Thursday,” Bakich said.