The No. 17 Michigan baseball team entered South Bend, Ind., having won its last nine games and 13 of its last 15.
All of that came to an end Tuesday night as the Wolverines (12-6) fell to Notre Dame, 9-5. The nine runs Michigan surrendered tied for the most it has given up in a single game this season.
“We weren’t keeping a tally,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich of his team’s winning streak. “As much as we want to win every single game, nobody does that at any level.”
The Fighting Irish attack on the Wolverines began in the second inning when Notre Dame (16-11) put runners on first and second with no one out. Michigan’s starting pitcher, freshman right-hander Will Tribucher, hit the next batter to load the bases for the Fighting Irish.
Following the play, Notre Dame catcher Ryan Lidge hit a two-run double to put the Fighting Irish up, 2-0. Bakich had seen enough and proceeded to pull Tribucher in favor of freshman right-hander Troy Miller.
“I can’t wait to see (Tribucher) again this weekend,” Bakich said. “Because I know he is going to do great. Tonight just wasn’t his night, and I told him that on the mound. He’s going to get right back on the horse this weekend.”
But the first batter Miller faced, Fighting Irish centerfielder Kyle Richardson, blasted his own two-run double to widen the gap to four. An RBI double by first baseman Zak Kutsulis later in the frame extended Notre Dame’s advantage to five.
Miller escaped the third inning without any further damage, but Fighting Irish designated hitter Jake Shepski launched a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth to make the score 7-0. Left fielder Ricky Hernandez hit an RBI single to left field later in the inning to put Michigan down, 8-0.
Michael Herne stymied the Wolverines’ offense as he pitched seven innings and allowed just three hits. He surrendered only one run, which came in the form of a home run by freshman shortstop Michael Brdar, making the score 9-1.
“It was just one of those nights where we got behind early,” Bakich said. “We got behind with two big innings that they scored in — the second and the fourth — and that was really it. It’s just one of those nights.”
But Michigan found new life in the eighth inning when it put runners on first and second with no one out. Senior left fielder Matt Ramsay was up to bat.
Ramsay hit what appeared to be a groundout, but a throwing error allowed a run to score. Three batters later, senior center fielder Cody Bruder singled to left to make the score 9-3.
In the next at-bat, sophomore designated hitter Drew Lugbauer smacked a two-run triple to left field to trim Michigan’s deficit to four.
But the comeback effort fell short as Brdar struck out swinging and the Wolverines went down 1-2-3 in the ninth.
“Our guys certainly showed some grit and some resiliency like they have many times,” Bakich said. “Unfortunately, we just dug ourselves too big of a hole early in the game to get out of it.”
Michigan will have little time to lick its wounds, though, as the Wolverines are slated to return home to take on Bowling Green on Wednesday before beginning a three-game set with Minnesota on Friday.
“The good thing about baseball is that sometimes you get an opportunity the very next day (to recover from a loss),” Bakich said. “And that’s the case for us. We have something to look forward to tomorrow.”