For the No. 17 Michigan baseball team, Friday’s contest against Ohio State was a chance at redemption. Last season, the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines five times, including ending Michigan’s season in the Big Ten tournament. But on Friday, the Wolverines got revenge with a 6-0 victory.
After a slow start from both sides, junior designated hitter Nick Poirier recorded the first hit of the evening. He chipped the ball to centerfield, just out of reach of Ohio State’s centerfielder. Poirier was later able to cross the plate for the first run of the game after senior centerfielder Johnny Slater hit a ball off the left field wall for a double.
That was only the beginning for Slater, as later in the sixth inning he smacked the ball to right field for a triple. The Buckeye right fielder dove for the ball, but it rolled past him to the wall. Slater picked up two more RBIs with the hit.
Senior catcher Harrison Wenson then followed Slater with a two-run home run over the left-center wall, extending the Wolverines’ lead to 5-0.
Just when Ohio State thought it had seen the last of Slater, he notched a single to right field in the eighth inning. Two batters later, junior first baseman Jake Bivens nearly hit his first career home run, but had to settle for a double after the ball bounced off the centerfield wall. However, he still managed to bring Slater home.
Friday’s game marked Slater’s first game back after he missed the series finale against Rutgers after a collision with sophomore left fielder Miles Lewis. Michigan coach Erik Bakich was uncertain when he would be back, but Friday morning Slater was cleared to play. Despite not taking any swings Thursday, but he felt ready Friday morning.
“To see the injury that he had six days ago and to already be back in the lineup, and then be a part of every inning that we scored in,” Bakich said. “It speaks to the character of an incredibly tough kid. And incredibly hard-working, gritty kid.”
Michigan had great success at the plate, and at the same time, the Buckeyes struggled to connect their hits and produce much offense — largely in part due to junior left-hander Oliver Jaskie.
Jaskie’s last start was less than stellar, as he went just three innings and allowed four runs, contributing to the Wolverines’ 12-5 loss to Rutgers. But that Jaskie was nowhere to be found against the Buckeyes.
He had the best game of his career, giving up just seven hits and pitching his first shutout of his career. But his most impressive feat of the day was earning his new career-high in strikeouts with 14.
Jaskie was the only Wolverine pitcher on the mound Friday, pitching the first complete game of his career.
“I knew he would probably tackle me if I tried to take him out,” Bakich said. “It probably wouldn’t matter. I could point to the bullpen and he was not going to come out. There was no taking him out, there was no thought of taking him out.
“That was his game and his game to finish.”
Michigan has been preparing for this game for 341 days — the last time the two teams faced off — and the Wolverines will surely be ready for whatever Ohio State has to throw at them Saturday and Sunday, and if the two teams meet in the postseason.
“There was no way that anyone on this team wasn’t going to show up today,” Jaskie said. “They don’t like us, we don’t like them. We’re real excited to get back out there tomorrow. We’ll enjoy this one for probably five minutes and then start thinking about the next one.”