As the rain began to fall and the weather grew colder, Michigan’s bats got hotter.
Despite some fielding difficulties which created an early deficit, the Michigan baseball team pulled itself together in the second half of the game Wednesday evening to best Bowling Green State, 10-5.
After a disappointing weekend in Columbus which saw the Wolverines lose two of their three games against Ohio State, Wednesday’s win kicked off a seven-game homestand that offers a chance to regroup while there is still time left in the season.
In the early innings, Bowling Green leveraged repeated misses from the Wolverines in the outfield to get on base. Base hit after base hit from the Falcons sent Michigan’s outfield scrambling and notched Bowling Green an early lead.
A two-run homer from senior infielder Jimmy Kerr in the second inning put Michigan in front, 2-1. A number of clutch plays ensured Bowling Green couldn’t gain too much of a foothold.
“They kept it a tight game early,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “But I thought we at least had some huge defensive plays early in the game to prevent additional runs from being scored and falling further behind.”
The sixth inning finally brought success and saw the Wolverines start to pull away after they suffered three scoreless innings, during which Bowling Green took a 3-2 lead. With the bases loaded and still no outs, sophomore shortstop Jack Blomgren started the scoring with a double to left-center field that sent seniors Blake Nelson and Miles Lewis home to regain the lead. A sacrifice fly from senior infielder Matthew Schmidt, who started Wednesday for the first time, subsequently sent Kerr home to bring the score to 5-3.
The Falcons were stumped in drawing many outs. Michigan fully rotated through its lineup and got only one out in the process. Two more runs from Blomgren and sophomore catcher Harrison Salter came before the end of the inning, making it 7-3.
“The sixth inning was the difference tonight,” Bakich said “With five of those at-bats going to two strikes, the guys were battling.”
Bowling Green’s difficulty in stopping Michigan’s batters became a theme as it eventually cycled through a total of nine pitchers by the end of the game.
But its offense had an answer. Redshirt junior left-hander Benjamin Keizer tried to pitch the Wolverines out of a jam after Bowling Green loaded its bases in the top of the seventh. Michigan managed to preserve its lead but conceded another two runs to the Falcons. Another foreboding inning was brought to an end by a fielder’s choice to second.
Michigan seemed poised to deliver another set of runs as it stepped up to the plate, but lightning was soon spotted over the Big House and the game was delayed for over an hour until the storm passed.
An hour of sitting in the locker room seemed to put no damper on the Wolverines’ offensive momentum, as they put up a three-run seventh inning highlighted by a soaring double through the gap from sophomore designated hitter Jordan Nwogu.
“To come out after the delay and put up a three-spot was huge,” Bakich said. “It was big time insurance because Bowling Green doesn’t quit.”
The pitching and defense seemed reinvigorated after its break as well and kept Bowling Green scoreless through the end of the game. Over five hours later, the Wolverines walked away with a 10-5 win.