The No. 13 Michigan baseball team currently ranks first in the Big Ten in terms of batting average (.299), hits (337), earned run average (3.04), fielding percentage (.984) and overall wins with 30.
Yet, these impressive stat lines aren’t enough for Michigan coach Erik Bakich.
“We got beat in attendance last weekend by Nebraska, by Indiana and by Michigan State,” Bakich said on WTKA radio. “Little shout out to the fans, we were fourth in conference play in attendance. Let me just challenge the fans here for a minute (to get out to Ray Fisher Stadium).”
In last week’s series sweep against Oklahoma, the Wolverines (6-3 Big Ten, 30-7 overall) saw just 486 in attendance at game one, 1,182 at game two and 1,640 at game three. In comparison, Indiana, Michigan‘s opponent this weekend, had a high turnout of 2,428 at their last home series against Minnesota.
Against the Hoosiers (6-5-1, 19-15-2), Bakich hopes to come out on top both on the scoreboard and in attendance.
The Hoosiers present a favorable matchup for Michigan, as Indiana ranks ninth in the conference with a batting average of .261. The Wolverines pitching staff should prove to be too much for the weak Hoosier offense, as Michigan not only ranks first in ERA, but also in strikeouts with 336.
Despite the uneven matchup, junior left-handed pitcher Oliver Jaskie and the Wolverines must keep Indiana left fielder Craig Dedelow and designated hitter Matt Lloyd at bay. The duo rank fourth and fifth, in the Big Ten in terms of home runs, with nine and eight, respectively.
But if Michigan pitches to its potential and stops the two from hitting the long ball, they have little to worry about, as the Hoosiers pitching staff is equally pedestrian as its lineup.
Indiana sits seventh in the conference with a 4.56 team ERA — a full run and a half higher than the Wolverines. Michigan certainly has the bats to take advantage of the mediocre Indiana rotation.
Following a 12-run and season-high 17-hit performance this past Tuesday in a win against Michigan State, Michigan’s batters will look to continue their hot streak. Senior centerfielder Johnny Slater will also try to carry the momentum over form Tuesday’s game, in which he recorded a career high in doubles with four and drove in four runs.
The Wolverines, who have won nine out of ten games, will look to build on their five-game win streak. During the streak, Michigan has averaged 7.8 runs per game, on par with its season average of 7.2. What has separated the team during this stretch is their pitching staff — allowing just 2.6 runs per game compared to their 3.51 season average.
While the Wolverines possess the talent to continue their winning ways against the Hoosiers, Big Ten matchups always present a challenging atmosphere.