One-third of an inning – that’s how long Penn State’s starting pitcher lasted on Sunday.
In that short time, the No. 22 Michigan baseball team tallied five runs against right-hander Eric Mock – and didn’t stop there.
In the final game of their series against the Nittany Lions (0-3 Big Ten, 10-16 overall), the Wolverines blew out Penn State, 14-1. Throughout the three-game sweep, Michigan (4-2, 22-6) produced 39 runs, tallying an impressive run differential of 30.
After surrendering a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, the Wolverines’ offense erupted in the bottom half of the frame.
Upon being hit by a pitch, sophomore second baseman Ako Thomas advanced to second on an error by Nittany Lion first baseman Willie Burger. After a fly ball moved Thomas to third, the sophomore scored on a wild pitch by Mock.
Then, junior third baseman Drew Lugbauer ripped an RBI double down the right field line, scoring senior shortstop Michael Brdar. In the very next at bat, redshirt sophomore left fielder Miles Lewis hit an RBI double, scoring Lugbauer and making it 3-1. Following back-to-back singles by sophomore designated hitter Nick Poirier and sophomore right fielder Jonathan Engelmann, the Wolverines’ lead increased to four before the end of the inning.
After Sunday’s win, Michigan improved to 11-0 when leading after the first.
“I think in any sport, at any level, you want to get ahead and stay ahead,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “So it’s good that we’re getting ahead and staying ahead.”
In the third inning, Michigan extended its lead to 6-1 with a sacrifice fly off the bat of senior catcher Harrison Wenson.
After tallying another run in the fourth, the Wolverines’ offense exploded again in the fifth, scoring six more runs. The inning was highlighted by a bases-loaded line drive to center by Lugbauer, which Nittany Lion centerfielder Jordan Bowersox bobbled. The ball proceeded to the wall, allowing all three base runners to score and Lugbauer to advance to third. And after a wild pitch scored Lugbauer, Michigan led 13-1.
While the Wolverines’ offense received an all around effort – eight of nine starters scored a run and all nine reached base – Poirier stood out. The designated hitter went 3-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and three runs scored.
“(I) was just sticking to the approach that (Bakich) gives us,” Poirier said. “Just being relaxed, seeing the pitches and pretty much trusting our plan as a team.”
In a game that featured a plethora of offense, Michigan’s pitching could have been easily overlooked.
Nevertheless, the Wolverines’ starter, junior right-hander Michael Hendrickson, recorded a career-high eight strikeouts over six innings. Additionally, the junior allowed just one run, one walk and three hits.
“Even in the run they scored, (Hendrickson) was making quality pitches,” Bakich said. “He was very efficient attacking the zone (and) he put the necessary zeroes up that we needed so we could separate offensively.”
In Michigan’s five games last week, it went 5-0, scoring 64 runs. If the Wolverines continue to have that level of offense production, they will be hard to beat.