In the Michigan baseball team’s Big Ten Tournament victory over Iowa, senior right-hander Willie Weiss was caught with an illegal substance on his glove and ejected. His actions earned him a four-game suspension from the Big Ten, right in the heart of the Wolverines’ postseason.
Just before he was caught, Weiss stood on the mound taking deep breaths as he played with the edge of his glove. In the fifth inning of an elimination game with a 4-1 lead, the stakes were high.
But as he prepared to deliver, the home plate umpire raised his hands, motioning for him to stop and summoned his crew. They took Weiss’s glove, inspecting the edge Weiss had been rubbing.
Moments later, Weiss was ejected for use of foreign substances.
This ejection and subsequent suspension could spell danger for the Wolverines’ postseason as they try to claw their way into the NCAA tournament. If they were to make it to regionals, the already limited bullpen needs all the help it can get. And any potential run could be overshadowed by the cloud of this issue.
Weiss’s season has been difficult. He has a 5.29 ERA on the year — far below the sub-3.00 ERAs he posted in both 2019 and 2021.
However in the past few weeks, Weiss has stepped up and he began to rally. Since his three-run inning against Maryland on May 15, he’s only allowed one run. His three scoreless innings against Rutgers on May 20 signaled to the coaching staff that he was back.
“Oh, he’ll have a significant role for sure,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said of Weiss’s position in postseason plans.
And the pieces seemed to be truly falling into place. Weiss tossed three innings of one-run baseball against Maryland on Friday, looking more and more like his old self.
However, against Iowa, all of those things were called into question.
Weiss was not subtle in rubbing his glove, and was quickly suspected of using a foreign substance by the opposing dugout. The Hawkeyes informed the umpires of their suspicions, and as a result Weiss was investigated. He had only faced two batters at the time of his ejection — one of which he hit with a pitch — and he had thrown just five pitches.
Any definitive detail on the situation is still uncertain. When asked for a statement, Michigan Athletics declined to comment. Bakich, however, spoke to Big Ten Network about the situation in postgame interviews.
“It’s like when you’re a parent and your kid makes a mistake,” Bakich said. “You don’t love them any less but you have to admit you made a mistake. … That’s not part of our program”
Other than a brief post-game interview with Bakich, no one else affiliated with the Wolverines has commented.
Weiss is already charged with a four game suspension, but the implications of his actions could extend further. Not only are his actions worthy of individual ramifications, but it could also warrant action against Michigan as a team.
As the Wolverine hope to hear their name called during the NCAA Baseball Selection Show, this could impact that.