Freshman infielder Jimmy Obertop stepped up in the bottom of the seventh with the score tied 9-9.
The ball popped off of his bat and seemed to hang in the air forever, before bouncing just over the center field wall, sending the Wolverines’ bench into a mob scene.
Coming off their first College World Series appearance the Wolverines were looking for a solid start to their campaign. In one swing, the Michigan baseball team opened its fall exhibition schedule with a 10-9 win over Dayton in seven innings on Sunday afternoon.
The Flyers opened the scoring in the first inning. A walk and a bloop-single set up runners on first and third. Another blooper to shallow left field forced a twisting, over-the-shoulder grab by freshman third baseman Ted Burton, but allowed the runner on third to score.
Junior left fielder Jordan Nwogu — Michigan’s lead-off hitter — stepped into the batter’s box down 1-0, and with the first swing of fall, he changed the game. Nwogu launched the ball to the center field wall and raced around the bases reaching home plate standing up.
The inside-the-park home run set the tone for the Wolverines’ batting and energized the team.
Michigan took the lead after a pitching change off of a sacrifice fly in the second inning to make it 2-1.
Nwogu wasn’t done making plays. With two outs in the third inning, a Dayton batter drilled a line drive to left field. Flyers second baseman Mariano Ricciardi tried to score from second but Nwogu took the ball off one hop and fired it home to junior catcher Joe Donovan’s waiting mitt.
The bats then exploded in the bottom of the third. With the bases loaded and one out, senior right fielder Christian Bullock ripped the ball off the wall in left, scoring two runs. Obertop followed with a line drive to center field, scoring two to make it 6-1. Senior infielder Matt Schmidt added to the avalanche with another line drive RBI to make it 7-1, and sophomore infielder Riley Bertram capped it off with a two-run single to right bringing the tally to 9-1 in Michigan’s favor.
However, Dayton was undeterred. The Flyers began chipping away at the lead in the fourth inning with two runs from a sac-fly and an RBI single to make it 9-3. They added three more runs in the fifth after a pair of singles drove in runs to make it 9-6.
After a scoreless 6th inning, Dayton had its backs against the wall. Ricciardi got the Flyers started with a ground-rule double. Ricciardi advanced to third off a single with one out. Third baseman Riley Tirrota completed the comeback with a three-run moonshot to center field, silencing the Wolverines’ dugout.
Obertop’s home run added to the Flyers’ pitching woes and gave Michigan a positive start to the fall season. On the other side the Wolverines’ pitching staff also struggled giving up six runs in the last three innings. Michigan’s defense, base running and batting were in mid-season form Sunday. Gone from the Wolverines’ roster are last year’s aces Tommy Henry and Karl Kauffman. Finding a reliable pitching staff will be integral if Michigan wants to have a chance at reaching last season’s heights.