The Michigan baseball team will be flying over, and to, uncharted waters this weekend.
The 19th-ranked Wolverines will travel to Honolulu to face Hawaii for the first time since 2008 — and just the second time ever. The last time Michigan and the Rainbow Warriors met was at the Arizona State Coca-Cola Classic tournament, where the then-18th ranked Wolverines stole the game, 11-5.
Since then, however, a new face has taken over the program from former Michigan coach Rich Maloney.
“I’ve never coached or played a game (in Hawaii),” said fourth-year Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “I spent a lot of times calling coaches who have coached there multiple times asking about how to best prepare for the time change.
“Another thing I heard quite often from other coaches and players is that when you’re coming from the Eastern or Central time zones, you need to build in some down time, some rest time, some nap time. I think that’s important for conserving their energy and making sure that they have everything they got for game time.”
To adjust to the time zones, the team shifted its training hours this past week so that practice was at night and academic work was in the afternoon. It seems like a minor adjustment — typically the schedule is reversed — but the first game is at 6:30 p.m. Hawaii time, which is 11:30 p.m. Eastern time. The new training schedule is helping the players adjust to competing later in the night.
According to the advisory coaches, it’s important to get the players some beach time, but they warned that it’s imperative the players get out of the sun before the heat kicks in mid-day.
But the goal isn’t just to get a tan. It’s still about baseball.
“We’re just looking to make more positive strides, that’s what we talked to the team about,” Bakich said. “To continue to advance the program, (and) to continue to get better.”
The team is looking to improve on execution and getting the pitchers to continuously attack the zone. Even more importantly, Bakich is looking to improve defensively.
This year, Michigan is heading into the series with a 7-3 overall record — a promising start considering its opponents’ 6-7 start to its season. As of now, Hawaii is batting .299 while posting a 4.49 earned-run average through 13 games. A Rainbow Warrior to watch will be senior infielder Jacob Sheldon Collins, who boasts a .404 batting average and a .429 on-base percentage.
The Wolverine lineup will be relatively similar to compete with the formidable opponent, pitchers and defense alike.
Michigan will send sophomore left-hander Oliver Jaskie to the mound first on Thursday, since Jaskie hasn’t pitched since Feb. 29 at California. The Wolverines will follow with left-hander Brett Adcock on Friday and Ryan Nutof and left-hander Evan Hill for Saturday. The defense will have the same 10 players that have consistently started.
With more than two weeks until Michigan’s home opener, the Wolverines will have to be comfortable on the road for now. Hopefully they won’t find it that hard in Hawaii.