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The Jungle is a wild place.

The Michigan baseball team (7-5) participated in the Keith LeClair Classic this weekend. Hosted by East Carolina University, the event featured the Pirates famously wild and passionate crowd, nicknamed The Jungle. 

In their first game, the Wolverines picked up a come-from-behind win, 7-4, against No. 21 Maryland (9-1). Michigan then dropped a game to hometown East Carolina (5-5), 10-8, and lost another to Indiana State (6-4), 6-5.

Throughout the weekend, Michigan battled from behind and produced late game rallies, though these rallies often fell short.

“We have some toughness to our team,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “It’s just embedded into our culture.”

That toughness showed this weekend in the team’s play, if not the results.

The then-undefeated Terrapins entered the weekend as the most highly touted team. This would be the weekend’s key challenge for Michigan.

And the Wolverines came to play.

“(The players) knew Maryland has got a loaded team this year,” Bakich said. “Our guys were ready.”

Though junior right-hander Cameron Weston gave up four runs in five innings of pitching, the Michigan bullpen shored up those early faults by putting together its first scoreless relief effort of the season. There efforts gave the explosive Wolverines’ offense time to push its way back into the game.

In the sixth inning, Michigan scraped out a pair of runs to get on the board. In the seventh inning, senior shortstop Riley Bertram whacked a two-run shot over the fence to tie the game.

Then, in the top of the eighth inning, junior outfielder Joey Velazquez stepped up to pinch hit for his first at-bat of the year. Velazquez got right down to business, going yard to left field for a three-run homer, seizing the lead, 7-4.

This lead was preserved by on-point performances from junior right-hander Noah Rennard and senior right-hander Willie Weiss. Each allowed only one baserunner.

The Wolverines would go on to win the game, earning Bakich his 300th career win for Michigan in the process.

“You could really feel we were starting to gain momentum,” Rennard said. “We have total faith in our guys to get the job done on the mound and carry that momentum the rest of the way.”

Still riding the high of defeating the highly regarded Maryland team, the Wolverines prepared to face the full force of The Jungle.

“Our guys were talking about how they were drawing energy from it and they loved it,” Bakich said. “This is the type of energy that college baseball needs.”

While the Wolverines may have felt the energy, the hometown crowd fed the Pirates more.

It unfolded as an intense back-and-forth game, highlighted by a Michigan comeback effort in the top of the ninth inning. Down to their last three outs and behind, 10-3, the Wolverines rallied to score five runs, including a grand slam from junior left fielder Tito Flores. 

Unfortunately for the Wolverines, East Carolina managed to quell the rally short of a comeback, striking out sophomore infielder Brandon Lawrence in a hard-fought at-bat to cement the 10-8 win over Michigan.

Finally, the Wolverines squared off against the Sycamores. 

After falling in yet another early hole, just as it had all weekend, Michigan had to play from behind. Down 6-2 in the bottom of the eighth, the Wolverines put up three runs off the back of hits from graduate center fielder Joe Stewart, junior first baseman Ted Burton and graduate third baseman Matt Frey. This made it a one-run game entering the ninth. 

But the ninth came and went without a run, as Indiana State right-hander Connor Fenlong held on to earn the save.

Michigan fought hard and stayed in games this weekend, but was unable to consistently get the job done. Leading to the 1-2 record.

“We didn’t minimize damage when we should have,” Bakich said. “They turned a couple of what should have been potentially low-scoring innings into big-scoring innings. … That was really the difference.”