Sophomore infielder Jimmy Obertop swung right through a curveball, striking out and leaving two runners on base with the score 7-3 in the eighth inning. The Maryland bench erupted as Michigan’s first real chance to get back in the game disappeared.
The Wolverines (26-15 Big Ten) struggled on both sides of the plate as they fell to the Terrapins (26-15) on Sunday, 7-3.
Sophomore left-hander Jacob Denner started on the mound for Michigan, although it was a short start. He struggled early, allowing two home runs in the first inning as Maryland jumped out to a 3-0 lead. Denner got through the second but allowed a double in the third and was pulled in favor of senior right-hander Blake Beers.
“When you face good hitting and you fall behind or you make mistakes out over the middle of the plate good hitters are gonna hit it,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “They made us pay early in the game and we got down.”
Beers did not fare much better than Denner. He allowed an inherited runner to score, and then ran into trouble an inning later, allowing two runs and two more to reach base before he exited. Freshman left-hander Logan Wood took over and allowed one run to score but was able to induce a double play to end the inning with the score at 7-3. Wood got through 2.1 innings before leaving.
The back end of the bullpen did well, as graduate student right-hander Joe Pace worked a clean 1.1 innings in relief of Wood, and junior right-hander Willie Weiss finished off the game with two scoreless frames.
“Logan Ward and Joe Pace and Willie Weiss were able to land their secondary stuff at a much better rate than the first two guys were,” Bakich said. “They got ahead of hitters and had them off balance.”
But the damage was already done. The Michigan offense was dormant, putting up just three runs and four hits as the team struggled to muster up quality at bats.
“We didn’t have much going on offensively after the second inning,” Bakich said. “Credit to their pitching, they were pitching fine and it’s also our fault for not making more hard contact. The hard contact we made was caught.”
Sophomore outfielder Tito Flores got the Wolverines on the board in the second, crushing a three-run home run to the left after graduate transfer infielder Benjamin Sems singled and sophomore infielder Ted Burton doubled to level the score at three.
Those early hits turned out be three of the four total that Michigan lodged in the game.
There was no late-inning magic today, as the eighth-inning opportunity ended with Obertop’s strikeout. In the ninth, a leadoff walk by Sems was erased by a Burton strikeout and Mazur grounding into a double play to end the game.
The explosive Wolverine offense struggled to produce and early pitching struggles gave Maryland an insurmountable lead and the series win. The loss eliminates Michigan from Big Ten title contention, as Nebraska clinched the title by moving 3.5 games ahead of the Wolverines with a win today against Ohio State.
“It feels horrible,” sophomore outfielder Clark Elliott said. “Especially on senior day, not to mention the weight that it carried for the postseason, it leaves a sour taste in our mouth. You want to let the seniors go out on a win, but we just couldn’t get it done.”