Wednesday marked the worst loss of the season for the Michigan baseball team. Among 14 runs and a season-worst 19 hits given up, there were not many bright spots.
But it wasn’t all bad for the Wolverines, as a familiar face returned to the lineup and made an impact.
Senior first baseman Jack Van Remortel broke his hamate bone in the later innings of a loss against East Carolina on March 5. He needed surgery on his injured hand and his full recovery took three and a half weeks. Wednesday against Oakland, Van Remortel finally made his return.
“Feels good,” Van Remortel said after the game. “Cam, our trainer, helped me out a lot. And you know, the coaches were also really helpful to it all and my teammates supported me throughout.”
Things looked bleak for the Wolverines when Van Remortel first stepped up to the plate at the top of the third. They were in the midst of their worst three inning start of the season, Oakland already held a resounding eight-run lead.
Unfazed, Van Remortel laced the second pitch he saw over the second baseman for a single, then junior outfielder Clark Elliott came up to bat with two outs.
Elliott smacked his ball through the middle and Van Remortel raced all the way home. The whole dugout met him at the plate to celebrate.
Even with a glimmer of hope, the Michigan defense continued to struggle. With men on first and third at two outs, it seemed inevitable that the Golden Grizzlies would only pile on more runs.
Oakland right fielder Brenton Phillips blooped what looked like a single, but Van Remortel was there to prevent it. He dove towards the hole and snagged the ball to end the inning with no damage done.
By the time he saw his last at bat, the Wolverines’ day was all but over. Down seven in the bottom of the ninth with a man on first, Van Remortel tried his best to continue the rally with another single.
Despite his and the rest of the hitters’ efforts, seven runs were not enough in their 14-7 defeat.
However, Van Remortel’s impact goes beyond his play on the field. As one of the best hitters on the team last season when he ranked first in walks, RBIs, and home runs, he is a veteran leader that inspires teammates off the diamond.
“He’s a great teammate,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “He’s got a great presence in the box and at first base and, yeah, he gave us a spark today with a couple of hits and scored a run. It’s good to see him get back in there and we’ll continue to count on him.”
Van Remortel’s first day back will not be looked upon fondly as a team effort, but his impression was definitely felt. For the Wolverines to rebound from Wednesday’s disaster, Van Remortel will need to play a key part.