Jimmy Kerr isn’t trying to fill anyone else’s shoes. The sophomore second baseman, who stepped up for the Michigan baseball team when sophomore Ako Thomas injured his hand two weeks ago, isn’t wasting any time making his own mark.
Before his injury, Thomas was leading the team with a .371 batting average and a .438 on-base percentage. And if those shoes weren’t big enough for Kerr to step into, Kerr’s father and grandfather both played baseball at Michigan and left with multiple championships under their belts.
But Kerr is in the process of paving his own legacy.
“(Michigan coach Erik Bakich) said ‘We don’t need another Ako Thomas, we just need a Jimmy Kerr in there,’ just be myself,” Kerr said. “Last weekend we had a crazy collision in the outfield between Miles (Lewis) and Johnny (Slater), and we had two other guys step up just the same exact way. Just being themselves, it’s what we train for.”
All season, Kerr has been the Wolverines go-to man from the bench — making 26 appearances and 17 starts — but it has only been recently that he has become a regular starter.
Kerr propelled himself into the spotlight last weekend at Rutgers, where he hit .700 and earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors. And during this weekend’s series against Ohio State, he kept that momentum going. Michigan took the first two games of the series before dropping Sunday’s finale, but it still a breakout series for Kerr. He batted .333 on the weekend and scored two runs.
Saturday’s contest was possibly Kerr’s best game of the year. He led the Wolverine offense with two hits, one stolen base and a sacrifice-bunt.
When Michigan fell behind the Buckeyes, 1-0, in the second frame, Kerr started the comeback with a ground-rule double over the right-center wall. He then stole third base, beating the throw with plenty of time to spare. His effort allowed senior catcher Harrison Wenson to bring him home with a sacrifice fly.
His offensive efforts weren’t the only thing on display in the series. Though Kerr is playing in an unfamiliar position at second base, he hasn’t let that slow him down. He made a diving catch for the second out of the third inning in Saturday’s matchup to slow Ohio State’s momentum and hold the Buckeyes to only one run in the frame.
“He’s like a sixth man in basketball, where you look up and he plays a ton of minutes and he gets a bunch of rebounds and scores a bunch of points and very impactful in the outcome of the game,” Bakich said. “Now that Ako’s been out and he’s been inserted in, we really haven’t missed a beat. He’s got some big hits this weekend and has made some nice plays defensively.”
No timeline has been announced for Thomas’s return, but thanks to Kerr, it is clear that the Wolverines are managing just fine.