Home runs are exciting in baseball since it’s pretty rare to hit one.
To the Michigan baseball team’s demise, though, home runs weren’t a rarity for Maryland on Sunday.
Going into the fifth inning, sophomore right-hander Chase Allen hadn’t given up a run. While the Wolverines started openers the previous two games, Michigan coach Erik Bakich reverted back to his Sunday starter to attempt to get back in the win column.
The result was the same, however, as the Wolverines (25-24 overall, 10-11 Big Ten) couldn’t overcome Maryland’s (41-10, 16-5) hot offense, losing 15-10.
Unlike Saturday, the Terrapins did not control the entire game.
As a matter of fact, Michigan got ahead early behind an RBI single from junior catcher Jimmy Obertop in the first inning.
The Wolverines then extended their lead in the fourth and fifth innings with an RBI double by senior shortstop Riley Bertram and a sacrifice fly by grad-transfer third baseman Matt Frey.
But this momentum disappeared for Michigan.
In the fifth, the Terrapins came into form. After a leadoff double, third baseman Nick Lorusso hit a two-run homer to get Maryland on the board. From there, the Terrapins tallied five consecutive hits off of Allen, eventually getting Allen out of the game behind back-to-back home runs by shortstop Matt Shaw and designated hitter Ian Petrutz.
The bleeding did not stop there.
Junior right-hander Noah Rennard came in to relieve Allen, but only lasted three batters himself. Although it looked like junior right-fielder Joey Valasquez ended the inning by catching a flyout on the warning track, the ball was just out of reach, driving in another two runs for Maryland and ending Rennard’s outing.
“It just unraveled really quickly in the fifth,” Bakich said. “They did a good job of hitting (our) mistakes and putting together three big innings like they did yesterday. That was where all their damage was done.”
Senior right-hander Willie Weiss proceeded to enter the game. While he struck out Shaw to end the inning, he hit and walked a batter in the sixth that led to another run for Maryland.
After that, sophomore left-hander Logan Wood threw just one pitch in relief of Weiss which resulted in a three-run home run for catcher Luke Shlinger to extend the Terrapins’ lead to 12-4.
To twist the knife further, Maryland added to its lead in the seventh inning off of another home run by Shaw, his sixth home run of the series.
With the lead exceeding 10 runs, it looked all-but over. Nonetheless, Michigan showed some life in the ninth inning with two RBI doubles by Bertram and junior second baseman Ted Burton that brought the deficit to seven. Following that, junior outfielder Clark Elliott cut the lead even more with a two-run home run of his own.
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, it was too late to make an impact in the game.
“I loved the ninth inning,” Bakich said. “I loved our toughness and our fight to not go down quietly. We showed the type of team that we can be, and now it’s going to be the bottom of the ninth (mentality) every day.”
The Terrapins came into Sunday with the 32nd-ranked batting average in all of Division I baseball batting .300 as a team. While the Wolverines knew that Maryland could hit, the Terrapins pieced off of every pitcher they faced this weekend — even setting school records. On Sunday alone, every player in the Maryland lineup tallied a hit, with five players hitting home runs.
Now, Michigan is in a bind. It doesn’t have a pitcher with a sub-4.00 ERA and still has to face the conference leader, Rutgers, next weekend.
“We need to do whatever we have to do to (win) the first game (of the series),” Bakich said. “If that means throwing multiple starters in one day or openers, everything is on the table at this point. There’s no set plan, there’s no set script. We’re not going to have anything predetermined.”
Whether it is a matter of coaching or on-field performance, Bakich needs to figure out something quick.