Cameron Weston pulls the ball back to pitch the ball.
The Michigan baseball team dropped its series against Purdue after sustaining two blowout losses. Lila Turner/Daily.  Buy this photo.

For the Michigan baseball team, the weekend series against Purdue demonstrated its current deficiencies in the bullpen. At the same time, it also showed a glimmer of hope for the future of the Wolverines’ pitching staff.

Michigan (23-18 overall, 9-6 Big Ten) dropped the first two games to the Boilermakers (25-14, 6-7) by scores of 18-4 and 12-4 — the former of which was the most runs allowed in a game by the Wolverines this season. However, they took Sunday night’s finale 13-2 off a strong performance from their reliever-turned-starter, sophomore right-hander Chase Allen.

“It’s a bittersweet end to the weekend,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “It’s almost like ‘well, yeah, this is what we would have done the first two games had we just played better.’”

Entering the weekend, the Wolverines had been on a roll, winning eight of their last 10 games on the backs of strong batting performances. Against the Boilermakers — themselves going through a significant slump in their pitching production — the series was expected to be a strong introduction to the final month of the season.

Instead, Michigan found itself being punched in the mouth from the get-go. Friday’s starter, sophomore left-hander Connor O’Halloran, was ambushed in the second inning of the game for three runs and only spiraled from there. He finished with seven earned runs before being pulled midway through the sixth inning. 

Freshman right-hander Avery Goldensoph proved equally ineffective in relief, giving up five runs with two earned. Facing an uphill climb, sophomore right-hander Ahmad Harajli took over to stop the bleeding. But he was able to record only one out before giving up another five runs. Ultimately it was sophomore left-hander Logan Wood that would record the final two outs of the night for the Wolverines.

With 18 runs — 15 of which were earned — and 20 hits allowed, it was by far the worst pitching performance of the season for Michigan’s pitching staff.

“They weren’t hitting deep shots, they just seemed to find a gap on everything they got,” Bakich said. “They were putting the bat on the ball just enough to get a ton of those soft hits.”

After Saturday’s game was postponed due to storms in the West Lafayette area, Michigan took the field Sunday looking to retake the series’ momentum with back-to-back victories. Instead, Purdue continued where it left off, scoring 12 runs off junior right-handers Cameron Weston and Noah Rennard.

The bats in the meantime proved unable to find a rhythm. Despite recording 10 hits, the Wolverines only scored four runs. 

“This weekend just showed that if we don’t have the offense going, we don’t have much going at all,” Bakich said.  “If we’re gonna be a good team, we need more of a balance.” 

The balance was struck in earnest in the final game of the series, when Allen posted eight full innings — his longest outing of the season — en route to a quality start. The bats in turn provided 12 runs of support, with all nine batters reaching base.

While the win to cap the series was a solid one, Michigan returns to Ann Arbor seeking answers for the rest of the weekend.

“The guys on the bus right now, they’re talking, but they’re not jumping and screaming,” Bakich said. “We know if we want to play in June, we gotta start playing to our potential in May. 

“There’s gonna be a lot of staring out the windshield tonight.”