Willie Weiss stood on the mound with two outs. The freshman right-hander was close to finishing the top of the tenth inning and giving the Michigan baseball team another chance to beat Indiana State.
Instead, he let Jake Means grab a hold of his pitch and launch the ball over the left field fence to create an 8-7 lead.
They couldn’t come back, and Michigan dropped its second home game of the season, losing 8-7 to the Sycamores due to the lack of a response in the last three innings.
For the first three innings, though, the same couldn’t be said. For every run Indiana State scored, the Wolverines had one of their own.
Despite freshman right-hander Isaiah Paige letting in a patchwork run score via a single to go down one early, the Michigan offense had the young pitcher’s back. Two solo home runs to left field — one that scooped over the fence by leadoff sophomore designated hitter Jordan Nwogu and another by senior outfielder Miles Lewis that left the bat at 105 miles per hour — paved the way to put the Wolverines back on top.
“We’re capable,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “We have a really good slugging percentage, we have a lot of capable hitters. We’re not a bunt type team, it’s hard to put on a bunt when we’ve got guys who can tie the game in one swing.”
But the Sycamore offense quickly caught up to Paige’s pitches. Starting the inning by hitting Chris Ayers — Indiana State’s No. 9 hitter — Paige subsequently allowed a long double to Clay Dungan, the ball bouncing off a diving sophomore center-fielder Jesse Franklin’s glove, to put runners on second and third.
One out later Paige’s day was over. On came freshman left-hander Walker Cleveland who gave up an intentional walk, hit the second batter of the inning and allow a second double to center-field — this time leading to three runs to grab a 5-2 lead.
Michigan’s offense, again, had an answer. After Blomgren’s four-pitch walk to load the bases, sophomore catcher Joe Donovan hit a single through left field to score two runs and bring the game within one run. After a walk from senior second baseman Ako Thomas to load the bases once again, up came Nwogu — who had already launched a home run on the day and was on a hot streak. He walked to score the tying run — it was 5-5.
“Someone scores four, we put up three,” Bakich said. “Psychologically, just to tie it back up again and when you’re playing from a deficit… To get that two-out rally after giving up a four spot, that was huge. Huge in that moment.”
In the sixth inning, the Wolverines’ turn struck first. Thomas hit his second double of the day, this one a leadoff double to left center field, putting him in position to trot home after Franklin launched a homer into center field.
Then, run by run, Indiana State grew back into the game. A leadoff double from CJ Huntley and a ground ball put a runner on third, afterward junior left-hander Ben Keizer threw a wild pitch to score Huntley. In the eighth inning, the Sycamores manufactured another.
“We just came up short tonight,” Bakich said. “And I trust those guys that are pitching there at the end of the game, just some bad bounces, some balls that squeak through, some balls that got by and allowed them to move up and advance on the bases — the little things that cost us.”
The Wolverines had no response. And Indiana State was just getting started before leveling the go-ahead run in the 10th inning.
“It comes down to a swing, a pitch, a play,” Bakich said. “They just made one more better pitch and had one better swing and did everything just one bit better than us tonight.”