That’s the number of runs the Michigan baseball team gave up to No. 18 Maryland this weekend.
All season the narrative for the Wolverines has been strong hitting and lackluster pitching. Facing a ranked team in the Terrapins highlighted how extreme their pitching woes are.
“They had a lot of confidence and they’re a very good team,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “They’ve got very good players, they’re very well coached, they’re a complete team.”
Facing well-rounded teams like Maryland is tough, and when you have the prevalent issues Michigan exhibits, that struggle is heightened. Despite switching up the rotation and averaging 7.67 runs a game from the bats in the series sweep.
Over the past few weeks, Michigan has fallen victim to late game surges by their opponents, continuously allowing late game runs. Because of this trend, the coaching staff attempted to counteract this with a new strategy.
In the first two games against Maryland the Wolverines used “openers”, pitchers who typically come from the bullpen to take on the first few innings before putting in the normal starter.
“We felt like we needed to do something different,” Bakich said. “We’ve been giving up a lot of runs late in the game these last few weeks.”
Despite the different approach, the late game runs still plagued Michigan.
On Friday, junior Noah Rennard — who started the game — and the usual Friday starter-turned reliever sophomore Connor O’Halloran both gave up multiple runs early on. Despite the offense mounting a seven-run surge to tie the game, O’Halloran was unable to hold off the Terrapins, allowing the game-winning run.
It was another loss exhibiting heartbreak that Michigan has become all too familiar with this season.
And on Saturday, the new strategy proved even worse.
“They hit a bunch of home runs, a lot of hard contact and they’re a very good offensive team,” Bakich said on Saturday. “They hit all of our mistakes.”
And there were a lot of mistakes.
Junior right-hander Cameron Weston — the usual Saturday starter — came into the game as the third Wolverine pitcher of the day in the second inning. In total, they would go through seven different pitchers in the 20-6 loss — the most runs they’d given up in a game all year.
After the bludgeoning on Saturday the pitching staff was too beaten down to hold back the Maryland fireworks.
In the fifth inning Michigan experienced an utter collapse, allowing eight runs and four home runs. The large lead proved too much for even the determined Michigan offense, who did their best to make up the difference but to no avail.
“You’re always looking for a spark,” Bakich said. “We’ve had a few sparks from the position player side. … We’re looking for that spark on the mound too.”
To beat the Terrapins, the Wolverine pitching needed more than a spark — it needed a whole lightning bolt