Coming off a three-game losing streak and six-game midweek losing streak, not much was expected of the Michigan baseball team on Wednesday.
The Wolverines took that personally.
Their bats came out of the gate swinging with something to prove. They knew Wednesday was a must win to keep the season alive, and they played like it.
In dominating fashion, Michigan (25-21) beat Wright State (23-22), 21-9. The statement victory gives it a spark of hope headed into the final stretch of the regular season.
Despite the Wolverines’ performance, the first action came from the Raiders’ bats. On just the third pitch of the game, left fielder Julian Greenwell bombed the ball deep to right field giving his team a one run lead.
Little did everyone at Ray Fisher stadium know, it would be the Wolverine show from that moment on.
“I saw a really focused look in their eye before the game today,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “We could tell as coaches that they just had a lot of intent and purpose behind what they were doing to prepare for this game. There wasn’t a whole lot of talk, there wasn’t a whole lot of laughter and you could just tell that they were locked in.”
And from the first inning, Michigan displayed that locked-in mentality.
With the bases loaded and no outs in the first, junior catcher Jimmy Obertop grounded into what should’ve been a double play, but the Wright State shortstop bobbled and dropped the ball. Senior shortstop Riley Bertram made the Raiders pay for that mistake with a three-run homer to give Michigan a commanding 6-1 lead.
In the second, graduate third baseman Matt Frey led the charge for the Wolverines. His 110 mile an hour double — his second hit of the game — brought in a run and later in the inning, he scored off a single to stretch the lead to seven.
Junior designated hitter Clark Elliott kicked off an unbelievable third inning that saw ten runners cross the plate with a two-RBI double. Pinch hitting for Obertop, senior catcher Casey Buckley added to the offensive production with the bases loaded by smashing a grand slam over the right field wall.
Michigan batted around in the inning, giving Elliott another opportunity at the plate. He punctuated the ten-run inning with a two-RBI single — his fourth RBI of the inning. After their best inning of the year, the Wolverine’s 18-1 lead literally broke the single-digit scoreboard.
“That’s how it should feel,” Buckley said. “That’s what we’re used to and it’s good to come out hot and score some runs and make it easier on your pitching staff. The energy was awesome the whole night and we’re just looking forward to keeping that going.”
The Wright State pitchers’ struggles continued in the sixth. After a wild pitch and two straight hit-by-pitches that loaded the bases, junior left fielder Tito Flores watched four balls miss the zone in a row and collected yet another RBI without lifting his bat from his shoulder.
Graduate center fielder Joe Stewart brought another runner home with an RBI walk in the seventh en route to Michigan’s 21st run — breaking the program’s season run record.
Although the Wolverines’ bats came out strong, their pitchers weren’t as impressive, giving up runs in five straight innings. But in a game with a double-digit lead, those worries can take a backseat.
A statement win of this fashion could be exactly the momentum swing Michigan needs heading into the most crucial part of the season.
“It’s huge,” Elliott said. “I mean, any win is huge, but it’s been a rough stretch for us recently, obviously. Getting this win here and especially in such dominating fashion is huge for our guys. It’s gonna be a huge confidence boost going forward.”
The Wolverines proved on Wednesday what their bats are capable of. And as the regular season nears a close, Michigan needs to continue to swing with this confidence if it wants to find success.