Friday night, as the sun started to set and the flood lights took over the field, junior left-hander Tommy Henry stared down The Citadel’s Tyler Corbitt. Through 6.1 innings, Henry hadn’t allowed a baserunner. He was dealing, and the No. 17 Michigan baseball team was in control.
“He had precision command all night,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “It was really fun to watch.”
But yet, Corbitt smacked a ball into left field and Henry’s perfect game bid ended. The next pitch, Corbitt tried to steal second and sophomore catcher Joe Donovan threw a bullet to get Corbitt out. The Bulldogs’ momentum was snuffed out just as quick as it came.
They wouldn’t get another whiff of it.
Henry only threw 88 pitches in Friday’s 2-0 win over The Citadel, 61 of those strikes. He only faced the minimum of 27 batters, but struck out a career-high 13 batters. He couldn’t be touched, except for that one time.
“Tommy’s performance on Friday was one of the more special things I’ve seen since I’ve been in coaching,” Bakich said. “I’ve been a part of a no-hitter and a (multiple pitcher) perfect game before, but I don’t know if I’ve seen a performance like that.
“… He’s a great leader, he’s a captain, he’s just a great teammate, a good dude, so to see guys like that get rewarded with special performances makes it even better.”
Henry’s one-hitter wasn’t the only gem thrown over the weekend. Junior right-hander Karl Kauffmann went eight innings the next day, allowing three hits, no runs and no walks, guarding a two-run lead until the Wolverines exploded for six runs in the eighth inning.
“To get those types of performances from Tommy and Karl certainly sets a tone,” Bakich said. “Our offense did enough in all the games to take the lead, but when you’ve got those two guys commanding the ball like they did all weekend you don’t have to score 10 runs.”
Kauffmann and Henry, though, are not just calm, collected and dealing when there are no runners on base. Even when under pressure they can find their way out of a jam, like Kauffmann did on Saturday.
In the eighth inning he hit a batter and was stuck with a runner on first and second with no outs. Coolly, Kauffmann struck out a batter in three pitches and forced two ground outs to get out of the inning — and game — without allowing a run.
With both junior pitchers starting the season 2-0, allowing just one earned run combined, they are establishing themselves as the centerpiece of Michigan’s success, and setting an example of excellence for the rest of the pitching staff.
“It was really good to see those guys and how they emerged and how they’ve developed,” said Bakich, “especially in the last year.”