- Luna Anna Archey/Daily
By Brad Whipple, Daily Sports Writer
Published April 20, 2014
After splitting its first two games of the weekend against Purdue, the Michigan baseball team triumphed Sunday for the series win.
Saturday in West Lafayette, the Wolverines’ bats froze and their shaky defense was exploited, but they came into the final game of the series firing on all cylinders to claim another Big Ten weekend.
Michigan (8-7 Big Ten, 18-21-1 overall) jumped out to a six-run lead in the first three innings Sunday and never looked back. The Wolverines rallied behind a seven-inning outing from senior left-hander Logan McAnallen, who allowed just four hits and struck out three.
“Winning a series on the road is a tough thing to do,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “At the same time, we expect to win every series that we play, whether it’s at home or on the road.”
Despite the loss the night before, Michigan let the memory of defeat slip its mind and came out swinging with confidence in the 17-hit game, its second-highest of the season.
In the first inning, the Wolverines’ first eight batters had quality at-bats and never faced a two-strike count. Sophomore shortstop Travis Maezes led off with a double to left field, and Michigan then batted around.
“The first inning couldn’t have gone any better,” Bakich said. “We needed to come out and deliver a pretty good punch right from the start.”
Twice in the Wolverines’ last six games, Michigan has forced the starting pitcher out of the game in the first inning. Purdue right-hander Brett Haan threw just 26 pitches and gave up three runs before being pulled — Hann was replaced before the ninth batter.
“We didn’t want to wait around and feel the game out,” Maezes said. “We wanted to be the aggressor and get the bats going early.”
The Wolverines continued to be dominant, scoring twice in the second inning off hot, top-of-the-order batting, and adding another tally in the third, forcing the Boilermakers (4-8, 9-26) to reach even deeper into their bullpen — in the sixth inning, they made three changes on the mound.
According to Bakich, McAnallen wasn’t pitching as sharply as he could’ve in the first three innings — he walked two of the first five batters — but he improved late in the game. He didn’t allow Purdue’s first run until the sixth inning, but that didn’t faze him as he pounded the zone for two more innings.
“He was able to just squash any momentum they had,” Bakich said. “We played solid defense behind him and put ourselves in a position for our offense to relax and continue to extend the lead.”
The Wolverines remained relentless at the plate in the seventh inning to score five more runs while batting through the order for the second time.
Though it took three Michigan pitchers to provide relief after McAnallen, the Wolverines’ explosive offense throughout the game provided a thick enough cushion to pull ahead of .500 in the conference.
“We’re going to need to continue at a very high and consistent level,” Bakich said. “We’re also going to need some help with some other teams scuffling.”
What happened Saturday:
The Boilermakers’ bats bullied the Michigan defense and exploited two errors en route to a 6-2 decision, ending the Wolverines’ three-game conference win streak.
In the sixth inning, Purdue took advantage of two Michigan throwing errors to juice the bases. The Boilermakers first scored on a wild pitch, and catcher Sean McHugh doubled to bring in the next pair — McHugh went 4-for-4 with three RBI. Junior left-hander Trent Szkutnik was tagged with the loss, giving up five runs in 5.1 innings.
“We just made a few mistakes, and they took advantage of it,” Maezes said. “Baseball is a game of freebies and we gave them quite a few.”
Freshman right-hander Jackson Lamb closed the final two innings in his second appearance on the mound this season, striking out two but allowing one run.
The Wolverines mustered just four hits in 32 at-bats in one of their worst performances of the season. Maezes led the lineup, going 2-for-3 with one RBI.
What happened Friday:
Looking to continue their Big Ten momentum after taking two of three in Champaign, the Wolverines made a strong entrance into Friday’s series opener, but it took 12 innings, their longest of the season, to pull off a 7-6 win over Purdue.
Though Michigan jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with a two-out, two-RBI double from junior center fielder Jackson Glines, sophomore left-hander Evan Hill put the Wolverines in trouble with an unusually turbulent start. After pitching 9.2 scoreless innings throughout his last two starts, he gave up three runs in just five innings Friday.
Relievers gave up another three tallies, but freshman left-hander Brett Adcock stepped in to prevent further damage, striking out six in four innings to set Michigan up for extras.
Tied at six in the 12th, freshman designated hitter Carmen Benedetti doubled down the right-field line to score the go-ahead run. In the bottom half, Purdue threatened the one-run lead with a runner on third, but sophomore right-hander Jacob Cronenworth forced a flyout for the third out and his eighth save of the year, tops in the Big Ten.