The No. 18 Michigan baseball team (4-2 Big Ten, 22-6 overall) is coming off three blowouts over Penn State this past weekend and will look to stay hot going into two midweek games tomorrow and Wednesday against Notre Dame and Bowling Green, respectively.
The Wolverines’ offense fired on all cylinders this weekend, amassing 39 runs and 38 hits. Arguably more impressive, though, is that Michigan’s pitching staff limited the Nittany Lions to just nine runs.
The Wolverines’ matchups against the Fighting Irish (4-8 ACC, 10-16 overall) and the Falcons (3-3 MAC, 7-17 overall) will serve as a brief break from conference play before facing Illinois (0-3, 9-16).
“The focus is more on how we play,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “And so, we just have a trust factor that the scorecard is going to come out in our favor.”
Considering both Notre Dame and Bowling Green have faced off against a common foe in Northern Illinois before, the Wolverines can gauge their competition.
The Fighting Irish battled Northern Illinois on March 21 and prevailed, 12-1. The Falcons also played the Huskies this weekend, dropping their first matchup, 11-0, but scraped back to win both games in a double-header the next day. When Michigan played Northern Illinois in a weekend series earlier in the season, it won three of the four games by close margins.
However, with the way the Wolverines have been playing recently, any past context may not be relevant.
Headlining the Michigan squad offensively is senior shortstop Michael Brdar — hitting .327 with 37 hits and 21 RBI — and junior third baseman Drew Lugbauer — hitting .296 with eight home runs and 34 RBI.
Notre Dame’s highest producing player on offense is Nick Podkul, hitting .299, with no other member of the team hitting over .300. Meanwhile, Bowling Green is led by Greg Basalyga, who currently boasts a .310 batting average with 10 runs and 13 RBI.
With the Fighting Irish and the Falcons posting .229 and .218 team batting averages, respectively, their offensive outputs pale in comparison to Michigan’s .290 cumulative batting average.
To tilt the scales even further in Michigan’s favor, junior right-hander Alec Rennard is expected to take the mound against Notre Dame. Rennard has been a staple for midweek starts as of late, with a 4-1 record and 3.08 earned-run average.
The Wolverines will have to take this week one game at a time without looking ahead to their Big Ten matchups against Illinois this weekend. Notre Dame’s starting pitchers boast a 4.42 average ERA, which could be solid enough to give Michigan’s offense a run for its money.