Clark Elliot's solo home run against Texas Tech set the tone for the weekend. Julia Schachinger/Daily. Buy this photo.

Junior outfielder Clark Elliott stared down Texas Tech pitcher Andrew Morris with an 0-1 count. His eyes locked onto the second pitch of the season and didn’t leave the ball until it reached the right field stands. The solo home run gave the Michigan baseball team an early 1-0 lead against the Red Raiders and led off an explosive but inconsistent offensive performance on the weekend from the Wolverines.

Michigan (1-2) won just one of three games in the College Baseball showdown in Arlington, Texas, beating Kansas State (0-3), 10-2, and falling to No. 14 Texas Tech (1-2), 7-6, and Oklahoma (2-1), 6-1 in its opening weekend of the season.

The Wolverines cruised from the start against the Red Raiders, continuing a rally through the second inning. Grad transfers Joe Stewart and Alex Fedje-Johnson found themselves in scoring position after a walk and hit by pitch. After an RBI single by senior infielder Riley Bertram, Elliott found himself in the spotlight again with two runners on base.

He capitalized, barrelling his second hit of the night into right field to score both runners. Elliott was the Wolverines’ clear best hitter on the weekend raking in two home runs, four RBIs and a .462 batting average. 

“He’s one of the harder workers we’ve had and a guy that got a lot of confidence this summer competing against the best out in the Cape Cod League and carried that confidence into this season so far,” Michigan coach Eric Bakich said. “ … He’s just very steady and just does a really good job staying centered mentally and with his routine putting together a lot of consistency in his preparation.”

The bats cooled off after the fiery start until two outs in the fifth inning. The Wolverines rattled off three straight singles, with senior infielder Jack Van Remortel hitting Stewart to his second run of the night.

No runs were scored from the seventh inning on and the game fell on the shoulders of senior reliever Willie Weiss in the bottom of the ninth. He allowed the first three batters to reach base and sophomore outfielder Dalton Porter hit a sac fly to tie the game at six.

Texas Tech outfielder Owen Washburn stepped up to the plate for the biggest at bat of his career thus far. In his first ever college game, Washburn laced a walk-off single to right field, scoring senior infielder Cole Stilwell for the Red Raiders’ 7-6 win.

“I wouldn’t look back at that game and say ‘man, Texas Tech beat us,’ ” Bakich said. “I would look back at that game and say we lost that game. We had the lead. They did stop us from continuing to score, but we gave that one away with just the extra 90s and the freebies. You can’t do that.”

Saturday’s game against Kansas State started off cold for both teams. The bullpens clamped down until the sixth inning when the Wildcats switched pitchers to sophomore Griffin Hassal who struggled to find the plate.

Junior catcher Jimmy Obertop advanced from first to third after two consecutive wild pitches. Michigan continued to pile on after a lucky error at first with two outs. Van Remortal batted in Fedje-Johnson with a double and would later score off another Kansas State error to make it a 3-1 game.

The Wildcats tried to slow the Wolverines down with another pitching change at the top of the seventh, but it only made things worse. Michigan went off for a season-high seven runs in an inning capped off by Elliott’s second home run of the weekend to ice the game at 10-2.

The Wolverines again started cold against Oklahoma but had ample chances starting in the fourth inning. Junior infielder Ted Burton reached first via an error and was hit home by a double from Obertop.

The fifth inning looked like a return to the cold bats with two consecutive outs to start, but Bertram and Elliott rattled off two singles to put men at first and third, giving Burton a chance to capitalize.

The Sooners made a pitching change and struck him out to halt Michigan’s momentum. The Wolverines didn’t put a runner in scoring position for the rest of the game. Oklahoma cleaned up in the eighth to secure a 6-1 victory over Michigan.

“The difference was that Kansas State made the mistakes against us that we made against Oklahoma tonight in terms of walks, errors, and extra 90s,” Bakich said. “When you give things away to good teams, they make you pay for it.”

Michigan is not unfamiliar with rough starts to the season. It schedules many of the best non-conference opponents for opening weekend to highlight its own weaknesses early. 

“It’s good for us to get knocked down a little bit and face a little adversity early this year,” Bakich said. “That’s why we scheduled the teams that we scheduled. … We expect that there’s going to be some getting knocked down where we’re going to have a response. We’ll certainly use that to our advantage and it helped us in the past, certainly helped us in 2019.”