Benjamin Sems swung through the third consecutive pitch, striking out for the second time on the day. The graduate transfer shortstop walked back to the dugout, his head down as he left another runner stranded on base.
Rutgers starting pitcher Brent Teller shut Michigan down all day, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. The Wolverines had just four hits in total, three of which were infield singles, in the 3-2 loss.
“We just didn’t string the quality at bats together,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “We didn’t have enough opportunities to put ourselves in scoring situations.”
Even though Michigan struggled to generate hits for much of the game, they did threaten the Scarlet Knights on a couple of occasions. In the bottom of the first inning the Wolverines had a golden opportunity: bases loaded with nobody out. But Michigan was unable to break the inning open as graduate transfer catcher Griffin Mazur grounded into a fielder’s choice, Sems struck out, and sophomore outfielder Tito Flores flew out.
“We had a huge scoring opportunity in the first inning with bases loaded no outs and didn’t score,” Bakich said. “Teddy’s home run should’ve taken the lead. With bases loaded no outs, I think the run expectancy is 2.2 runs or something. You scratch across a couple there, you win 4-3.”
The Wolverines offense finally woke up in the seventh inning, as sophomore Ted Burton launched a two-run home run to deep left field— ending the shutout and the no hitter all at once. Burton was the lone bright spot for Michigan, notching two hits and driving in the only runs of the game for the Wolverines while also making several nice defensive plays at first base to limit Rutgers to three runs.
“Teddy got a mistake breaking ball up and he put a good swing on it, hit a two run homer,” Bakich said. “But we have to be better with our approach. Too much weak contact with less than two strikes.”
Michigan threatened again in the eighth inning. With two runners on and two outs, Sems hit a fly ball to deep right that was caught at the wall, inches short of giving the Wolverines the lead.
In the final frame, Michigan showed signs of their patented late inning heroics when Burton singled with only one out. But it wasn’t meant to be. Sophomore infielder Jimmy Obertop flied out to the wall in centerfield and junior infielder Riley Bertram grounded out to end the game. The Wolverines left seven runners on base in total.
“We hit some balls hard but not enough,” Bakich said. “That’s an approach thing. We have to just do better, trying to do more damage with less than two strikes.”
Michigan couldn’t come through, dropping the series to a Rutgers team around .500. The powerful Wolverine offense was stifled by the lowly Scarlet Knights, as Michigan dropped two critical games to fall two games behind Nebraska in the loss column. For the talented Wolverines, the offense was simply not good enough and the team paid the price, losing two games they expected to win.
“We will be fired up coming out next weekend,” Burton said. “Everyone gets knocked down but I think we’re gonna respond well and come out of the gates hot.”