The Michigan baseball team is struggling. The Wolverines have failed to find direction and continue to perform in hit-or-miss fashion.
In Tuesday’s 10-3 loss to Xavier they missed hard.
All season, Michigan has preached confidence and a positive attitude. But as the hard losses pile up, that confidence seems to be evaporating. Since the start of its last weekend series against Indiana, Michigan has committed nine errors in the field — three of which came against the Musketeers on Tuesday.
That inconsistency is alarming, especially since the Wolverines have been a competent fielding team throughout the season.
“I don’t think you can say that a team that’s fielding .974 is a defensive team that makes a lot of mistakes,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said after an error-ridden loss on Sunday. “But … we made some mistakes today that allowed a few runs to score.”
And while the errors on Tuesday were not a turning point in the blowout loss, their presence is symptomatic of the team’s recent struggles and the lack of confidence that may be taking root.
“Tonight was a very sloppy night defensively,” Bakich said. “We allowed way too many freebies … that’s not a winning recipe.”
The fourth inning held the night’s first error, when graduate third baseman Matt Frey tried to hold on to a late throw to first. Instead, it flew out of his hand and ended up in right field, allowing the runner to advance to second.
The runner later scored off a single, helping Xavier gain an early edge.
While it’s not a common occurrence, balls do occasionally fly out of the hands of fielders in weird directions. However, the other two errors had more direct consequences and clearly resulted from rushed plays.
In the seventh inning with two runners on, junior right fielder Joey Velazquez bobbled the ball, failing to get it in quick enough to prevent a run from scoring. Then in the eighth, junior second baseman Ted Burton rushed the throw to first base, allowing yet another run to score.
“Where we are this season is not anywhere close to what the expectation is,” Bakich said. “That’s unfortunate because we actually have some talent on our roster and we just haven’t played to our potential yet.”
These types of errors are a drop in the bucket compared to the same old issues put on display once again against the Musketeers, but the propensity with which they have appeared recently shows something new. The team’s issues might be taking a deeper toll.
The Wolverines’ mental toughness has allowed them to stand up to tough teams and bounce back from tough losses before, such as their 13-2 win against Purdue immediately after a 14-2 shelling in game one of a doubleheader.
But if they continue to make mistakes at this elevated rate, the rest of the season could be a bumpy ride.