- Luna Anna Archey/Daily
By Zach Shaw, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 30, 2014
The baseball curved further and further to the right. Iowa second baseman Jake Mangler — who made spectacular plays all weekend — looked primed to save the game for the Hawkeyes. Yet the ball kept drifting to the right, eventually landing just out of reach in shallow right field to a splash of turf pellets.
As freshman outfielder Jackson Lamb barreled around to score, the Michigan baseball team burst out of the dugout. A weekend of shining moments and dark spots had come to an end, and the Wolverines charged toward first base to celebrate the brightest moment of the weekend.
Junior outfielder Jackson Glines had just delivered a walk-off hit to lift Michigan to a 6-5 victory over Iowa, giving the Wolverines (3-3 Big Ten, 11-15-1 overall) a much-needed series win and their fourth win in five games.
“I went up there knowing we needed a big hit,” Glines said. “I’m the three-hitter, and that’s what I’m supposed to do. Coach always talked about how when we get kicked in the stomach, we gotta get back up and throw punches back. We had good at-bats all day, I just needed to do it again.”
For much of Sunday, it looked like the hero would be left-hander Trent Szkutnik. With a fastball that teetered into the 90s and a crippling curveball, the junior stifled the Big Ten’s second-best offense, limiting the Hawkeyes (3-3, 15-9) to just four hits and striking out six in seven innings of work.
When Szkutnik jogged into the dugout after his seventh inning, the crowd stood and cheered. After building a 5-0 lead, it appeared just a few formalities stood in the way of the Wolverines winning their first home series of the season.
But after a long weekend, the bullpen showed its fatigue in the eighth. In a half-inning that lasted nearly an hour, four Michigan pitchers combined to surrender three hits, five walks and a five-run lead. After a lifeless bottom half of the inning on offense, the Wolverines were deflated. With 10 of their losses coming by two runs or fewer, they were in the midst of an all-too-familiar narrative.
But freshman right-hander Brett Adcock bucked the trend. After getting drilled by a line drive, Adcock scurried around before barely throwing out the runner to end the top of the ninth as the potential go-ahead run crossed the plate.
“(Adcock) had a huge toughness play for us,” Bakich said. “That would’ve been a tough way to lose, but he got the clutch play and got our team back in the game.”
The bottom of the ninth began quietly when Lamb drew the game’s 14th walk. Substitution had forced Iowa to use its third-string catcher. Lamb capitalized on the lack of depth for the Hawkeyes, putting himself on second with a steal. A walk and a ground out later, the scene was set for Glines.
With two on, two outs, the crowd on its feet and the game on the line, Glines was ready to shine. Glines pulled the 1-1 pitch to right field for the win.
The hit wasn’t blowing past anyone, but on Sunday, it curved just right.
What happened on Friday:
Despite the moment in the sun, the weekend didn’t start bright for Michigan. Friday, a damp day in the upper 30s, the Wolverines’ bats were equally cold, mustering just six hits to nine strikeouts, wasting solid pitching and defense in a 3-2 loss.
“The conditions weren’t ideal for anyone,” Bakich said. “But that’s no excuse. We didn’t do a good job of putting the ball in play and had too many strikeouts, and it’s hard to win that way.”
What happened Saturday:
Still playing in cold conditions, Saturday began much like Friday. Michigan compiled just five hits and eight strikeouts in the first seven innings, and went into the bottom of the eighth trailing and facing a devastating 1-4 start to Big Ten play.
But a solid outing by sophomore left hander Evan Hill kept them in the game. After four quick at-bats, the Wolverines had tied the game and loaded the bases with nobody out. Then two quick outs made it look like the offensive outburst was nothing more than an anomaly, but defensive substitute and freshman infielder Trey Miller had other plans.
“I don’t get up there often, so I don’t want to let a single strike go by,” Miller said. “I saw one I liked, and tried to put my hardest swing into it. I’ve been working hard all week, so I just had to trust my training and trust myself.”
Miller’s trust paid off, and his first career hit drove in two, giving Michigan a 4-2 lead that moments later tied the series.