The No. 22 Michigan baseball team faced off against Penn State on Saturday for the second of three matchups between the two teams this weekend. The Wolverines silenced the Nittany Lions with apparent ease, as both junior third baseman Drew Lugbauer and redshirt freshman pinch hitter Joe Pace combined for three home runs that capped off a 15-run onslaught.
Junior right-hander Ryan Nutof picked up his second win of the season in Michigan’s solid 15-2 routing of Penn State.
After picking off Penn State’s Christian Helsel, the Wolverines retired their foes’ side handily. In the bottom of the first inning, Michigan started its scoring barrage. After an infield hit from sophomore second baseman Ako Thomas, he advanced to second on a groundout, and senior shortstop Michael Brdar lined to centerfield for an RBI. Lugbauer stepped up to the plate with Brdar on first, and said goodbye to a ball driven over the left-centerfield wall, sending Michigan up, 3-0.
“Usually we’re just trying to keep the momentum on our side and extend the lead,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich.
The Wolverines would pick up another run in the bottom of the second inning from sophomore right fielder Jonathan Engelmann’s single to left field. After a wild pitch, steal and passed ball, Engelmann scrapped his way home to tack on to Michigan’s tally.
For a moment, though, the Nittany Lions seemed poised to come back in the top of the fourth inning. With a four-run deficit, Penn State started the inning right with back-to-back home runs off Nutof.
“You’ve got to keep attacking and not let it affect the next pitch,” Nutof said. “I immediately forgot about the first one, and then the second one happened, and I said ‘Alright let’s go back at it,’ and then I got a quick pitch and got out of the inning.”
The brief, but minor, setback quickly subsided as Lugbauer hit another that exited the park, but this time over the left field wall. With that surge of offense from the team’s leader in runs on the day, the Wolverines never looked back.
“I just hit it and kind of lost it and I was looking at the third base ump to see if he was calling it fair,” Lugbauer said. “And I guess he did.”
With a solid foothold on the game, Michigan went on to score 10 more runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
Spearheading the 10-run outburst was Pace’s home run in the eighth, as he went to pinch hit for junior first baseman Jake Bivens. Pace recorded his first career hit as a Wolverine with a two-run bomb over the left-centerfield wall.
Michigan handled Penn State with ease, and heads into its final matchup against the Nittany Lions tomorrow.
“Consistency and confidence are the name of the game,” Bakich said. “We just want to keep preparing and investing time, daily, and hope the hits keep falling.”