A day after the pitching staff looked superb – allowing only one run in a 1-0 loss to Indiana – the Michigan pitchers simply weren’t themselves.
The Wolverines allowed four walks, 16 hits – 10 of which were for extra bases – and a season high 12 runs in their 12-9 loss to the Hoosiers (7-6-1 Big Ten, 21-15-2 overall). Heading into the game, Michigan (6-5 Big Ten, 30-9 overall) ranked first in the Big Ten in earned run average and strikeouts.
“You have to tip your hat to them,” said senior catcher Harrison Wenson. “They hit the ball well and they hit our mistakes. We pride ourselves with filling up the zone and filling the bottom of the zone up and today we just couldn’t get that done.”
After a hitless first inning from both sides, Indiana earned the first hit of the game in the top of the second, with a leadoff double by designated hitter Matt Lloyd. The very next at bat, right fielder Logan Sowers blasted a home run over the left field wall, making it 2-0.
Michigan came back with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning.
Redshirt sophomore left fielder Miles Lewis started the inning with a single up the middle. Lewis advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by junior first baseman Jake Bivens and then moved to third on a wild pitch. Then, sophomore Nick Poirier hit a single up the middle to score Lewis. Two at-bats later, sophomore second baseman Jimmy Kerr – who started in place of the injured sophomore Ako Thomas – belted a double to the left-center field wall to tie the game at two.
However, the long ball continued to prevail for the Hoosiers in the third. Third baseman Luke Miller and Lloyd hit back-to-back solo homers to regain Indiana’s two-run lead, 4-2.
After three innings in which he surrendered six hits, three home runs and four runs, junior right-hander Ryan Nutof was replaced by junior righty Alec Rennard.
However, the pitching change didn’t phase the Hoosiers, as they added three runs in the fourth. The inning was highlighted by a two-run double to right by left fielder Craig Dedelow.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Wolverines cut into the deficit with two runs. Michigan began the inning with three consecutive singles by junior first baseman Jake Bivens, Poirier and sophomore right fielder Jonathan Engelmann. Kerr scored Bivens on a long sacrifice fly to center. The next at-bat, Poirier scored off a fielder’s choice on a ball hit by Wenson, cutting the score to 7-4.
Despite the Wolverines’ comeback efforts, Indiana recorded four more runs in the fifth on three doubles and a walk, making it 11-4.
In the bottom of the eighth, with Michigan down 12-5, Ray Fisher Stadium seemed depleted. Yet, with one swing of the bat, Wenson brought some life into the crowd by blasting a grand-slam over the towering left field wall.
Yet this moment of joy was brief, as the Wolverines went on to lose 12-9. It is just the second time Michigan has lost two consecutive games this season.
“Today we just didn’t come out on top but tomorrow is a new day,” Wenson said. “I know we’re going to bounce back strong because we always do.”