On March 22, 2015, the Michigan baseball team lost 6-3 to Nebraska, its third straight loss to the Cornhuskers.

One year later, the now-22nd ranked Wolverines (6-2 Big Ten, 25-9 overall) turned the 2015 result on its head, defeating the Cornhuskers, 6-1, completing a three-game sweep. 

Michigan coach Erik Bakich downplayed the feat.

“We really went into (the weekend) talking about each game as a one-game series,” Bakich said. “We didn’t use the word ‘sweep.’ ”

The Wolverines’ victory came on the back of masterful pitching, particularly the performance from senior left-hander Evan Hill. He threw for seven innings, surrendered one run on four hits, walked one batter and struck out four.

“I threw a lot of fastballs today,” Hill said. “I was moving it in and out.”

Sophomore Ryan Nutof picked up where Hill left off. He finished the contest with two scoreless innings and two strikeouts.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning when senior centerfielder Cody Bruder singled up the middle before stealing second base on the next at-bat.

Sophomore first baseman Drew Lugbauer brought Bruder home with an RBI double to right field.

Michigan was unable to capitalize further, though, as freshman shortstop Michael Brdar struck out swinging and freshman right fielder Jonathan Engelmann grounded out to end the frame.

“Those guys in the middle of the order did a nice job of staying connected with the guys who hit in front of them,” Bakich said, referring to hitters three through six. “Each got on base a few times and took advantage of some situations to capitalize.”

Nebraska (7-5 Big Ten, 22-14 overall) threatened to erase the Wolverines’ newfound lead in the top of the fifth, when left fielder Luis Alvarado hit a one-out double down the left-field line.

But two batters later, after a Nebraska base hit, senior Wolverine left fielder Matt Ramsay made a perfect throw to home plate to tag out Alvarado and preserve Michigan’s 1-0 edge.

“Getting the defense back in to hit is huge for momentum shifts,” Bruder said. “Hats off to them.”

Nebraska managed to tie the game in the sixth as first baseman Ben Miller hit a two-out RBI single.

The Wolverines responded right away, though, in the bottom of the frame. With senior catcher Harrison Wenson on first and junior designated hitter Carmen Benedetti on second, Bruder singled up the middle to score Benedetti. Lugbauer then hit a sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position with one out.

After Brdar reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases, Engelmann grounded out, but drove in a run in the process. The inning ended when freshman second baseman Ako Thomas struck out looking.

“(Nebraska) got some momentum with a two-out RBI,” Bakich said, referencing the top of the sixth. “For our guys to come back and put up a two-spot is a great sign for the way our team stayed connected with each other.”

But it was the seventh frame where Michigan sealed the contest.

Once again, Bruder came up to bat, this time with Wenson on first and Benedetti on third with two outs. Bruder hit an RBI single to extend the Wolverines’ lead to 4-1. He finished Sunday with four hits on four at-bats, two runs scored and two RBI.

Lugbauer had the hit of the inning as he doubled to left field, scoring both Bruder and Wenson.

“We always like to see the ball up,” Bruder said. “When we got our pitch, everyone just put barrel on it.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.