Dayton outfielder Andrew Casey chased after Tito Flores’s rocket in the fourth inning to no avail.
The junior outfielder raced around second as his ball sailed just over the slant of the left field wall. The vital homerun gave the Michigan baseball team a one-run lead which would hold for the rest of the day.
The Wolverines (11-8 overall) defeated the Flyers (8-9), 4-2, to complete the sweep of their weekend series and start undefeated at Ray Fisher Stadium. Michigan’s batters capitalized on a myriad of defensive mistakes and sloppy pitching from the Flyers.
For Dayton, the blunders started early.
In the bottom of the first, graduate outfielder Joe Stewart made it to third base off a wild pitch. Junior catcher Jimmy Obertop quickly capitalized with a single to bring him home for the first run of the day.
Although they didn’t add any runs, the Wolverines were gifted chances in the second and third via dropped pop ups. Flores and Stewart both reached scoring position with two outs, but the Flyers kept Michigan quiet.
No matter the result, Dayton was on their toes for the whole first half of the game.
“I think pressure is the word,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “You’re either feeling it or applying it and so if you do a good job holding the strike zone and not chasing then you force the other team to pitch to you. … We’ve got multiple threats up and down the lineup, but it’s just the combination and we’re trying to apply as much pressure as possible.”
The mistakes kept piling up for the Flyers in the fourth. Junior second baseman Ted Burton hit a routine grounder straight to the shortstop, but still made it to first when the first baseman dropped the throw.
Flores immediately stepped up and drilled a fastball straight to left field to punish the sloppy defense. Junior outfielder Clark Elliott expanded the lead to two with an RBI single to send a walked man home.
The Wolverines didn’t get any more easy opportunities, but they didn’t need them. The damage had already been done.
Sophomore reliever Chase Allen checked in during the sixth and never looked back. He immediately struck out two batters and retired the third on a fly ball to Elliott.
“You don’t like facing those types of guys that are attacking you with good stuff that have not an easy see in terms of picking up their arm slot,” Bakich said. “ … It’s just uncomfortable. So I liked the fact that he got in there and treated it as if it was his start.”
Allen stayed lights out through the next two innings where he recorded three strikeouts and three easily-fieldable balls while allowing just one walk and no hits.
Staked with a two-run lead in the ninth, Allen picked up right where he left off with a quick groundout and strikeout. As Casey stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, the Flyers knew he was their last hope.
Instead, he flew out straight to left field to end the game and secure the sweep for the Wolverines.
With the early runs, stellar fielding and strong pitching performance, Michigan looked comfortable and in control the whole way through. Preparation made the difference in its domination.
“We just talk about routines a lot,” Allen said. “So it’s getting here, even before breakfast when you go through your routine. I mean, the whole team is doing it and so you just want to get after it. We continue to get better. And it just makes it easy to take the mound knowing that everybody else has gone through their routine behind you.”