Michigan coach Erik Bakich makes sure to appreciate every contribution to his team, including help from his wife.
“I want to let my wife know how much I appreciate her and all the sacrifices she makes,” Bakich said. “Our family is very much integrated into the team. All of the coaches’ wives and of their sacrifices, too. Really, all baseball moms everywhere, because Mothers’ Day on Sunday typically means baseball games.”
And for freshman left-hander William Tribucher — who pitched six scoreless innings in the midweek contest with Eastern Michigan — this weekend’s three-game series against Rutgers will be especially interesting as his mother is a former Scarlet Knight.
The 21st-ranked Wolverines are slated to host Rutgers (6-9 Big Ten, 23-22 Overall) for the first time as conference opponents. Michigan (9-5, 31-12) is coming off of a two-game winning streak against Eastern Michigan after falling to in-state rival Michigan State. Despite the excitement for a big weekend — Mothers’ Day, Senior Day and the first-time series — Bakich made sure to stop his athletes from getting ahead of themselves.
“We try not to focus on the other jersey,” Bakich said. “We still have a day of training tomorrow. When our head hits the pillow tonight, we’ll look forward to another day of improvement tomorrow.”
Added junior utility player Carmen Benedetti: “Like Coach says, we’re just focused on tomorrow. It will be a fun time. It’s always great to play a conference home game, especially looking at the last three (home-conference series). But we still treat every game as important as the next. We don’t play the jersey, we just get one percent better every game. We’ll put the pedal to the metal and play hard.”
In the contest against the Eagles, Benedetti went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a walk. Sophomore third basemen Jake Bivens and junior catcher Harrison Wenson each extended their hitting streaks, with Bivens furthering his reached-base streak to 40 games. The three will look to continue their impressive performances this weekend.
The pitching staff, as well as the offense, will also strive to be a force to be reckoned with. Tribucher earned the victory for Michigan by surrendering only one hit after starting for his career-high of six innings. But he’s not too concerned about being relegated back to a reliever for this weekend.
“I’m really not to worried about my role,” Tribucher said. “I’ll probably be a mid-relief pitcher, and I’m fine with that. I really just go in whenever and wherever they need me and let the defense work. We have a great bullpen.
“When you’re in the bullpen, you know you’re not going to go in for more than an inning or two. But you have to pound as much into that as you can. Then when you’re starting, you have more time to prepare.”
Rutgers is coming off of a win streak of its own after toppling Saint Peter’s, 10-1. A key Scarlet Knight to watch out for is junior Mike Carter, who boasts a .395 batting average and .457 on-base percentage. Rutger’s RBI leader, however, is infielder Chris Suseck with 30. That number pales in comparison to Wenson, who has garnered a team-high of 46 RBI for Michigan throughout the 2016 season.
As the weekend looms large, Bakich and his team aren’t worried. They still have one more day of training, anyway.