Two weekends ago, the No. 16 Michigan baseball team was having its way against Nebraska. A dynamic offense and dominant relief pitching were the catalysts in three consecutive multi-run victories.
But last weekend’s series against Michigan State told a different story — the offense produced sufficient run support, but the bullpen was out of sorts.
Overall, Michigan’s relief pitchers allowed five runs, each dealing a crucial blow to the Wolverines (9-4 Big Ten, 29-11 overall). With Michigan holding a 3-2 lead in the ninth inning of Friday’s game, junior right-hander Jackson Lamb allowed the tying run to cross home plate and force extra innings.
Then, during Saturday’s contest, the Wolverines held a 5-1 advantage entering the eighth frame, but once again lost the lead. Michigan State hammered Michigan’s bullpen for three runs. The end result was a Spartans victory, keeping the Wolverines winless in East Lansing this season.
“I know we have a talented bullpen,” said junior utility player Carmen Benedetti. “Sometimes it doesn’t go your way, but I know these guys will be back out there making quality pitches and helping out the team any way they can.”
After a disappointing series against the Spartans, the Wolverines will look to rebound against Eastern Michigan (8-7 Mid-American, 17-23). The two teams last squared off on April 13, when Michigan earned a convincing 19-3 victory over the Eagles.
Though a 16-run margin is not the expected outcome for any match, the two-game set against Eastern Michigan should give the Wolverines the opportunity to reassert themselves.
The first game of the series will be at Ray Fisher Stadium, right before the Wolverines will make the short trek to Ypsilanti to face the Eagles at Oestrike Stadium.
For Michigan to come out of the weekend riding a wave of momentum, it knows its main focus will be on the bullpen after its shaky performance versus the Spartans.
“If you’re a bullpen guy at any level, you have to have a short memory,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “Even if you don’t have your best day, you’re going to get your number called again. We’re not going to let a bad half inning hurt our spirits.”
Added junior shortstop Michael Brdar: “We’re never discouraged. We always have a positive outlook and keep building on what we have. We don’t look back at this weekend, and we’ll put it behind us.”
The Wolverines will likely bring out the same rotation of relievers they did last weekend. If the past can be any reflection of what’s to come, Michigan should be able to redeem itself.