The Michigan baseball team started its season off with a bang. The Wolverines took three of four games from Iowa in Round Rock, Texas last weekend, a major step in Michigan’s Big Ten title aspirations.
While the Wolverines got off to a slow start, scoring just seven runs in their first two games combined, they made a statement in the latter half of the series. Michigan shutout the Hawkeyes in its third game 7-0, and in the final game of the series, scored 11 runs in an 11-4 victory.
While the offensive output in the series’ first two games left much to be desired, Michigan coach Erik Bakich credited Iowa’s talented starting pitchers for capitalizing on the Wolverines’ mistakes and praised his team for bouncing back so quickly.
“We made some mistakes and the game got out of hand,” Bakich said. “But I was proud of the way our guys responded, they did a better job stringing quality at-bat together, making hard contact and looking more to smash the ball and do damage.
“It came down to just being more productive with runners in scoring position and getting those guys home.”
Other major contributors to Michigan’s strong performance included a productive outing from sophomore outfielder Tito Flores and adjustments to the batting order over the course of the series. Bakich acknowledged the importance of ‘learning-as-you-go’ throughout this season, and the Iowa series showed his commitment to that mindset.
After a long series, Michigan now has to prepare for Purdue in Greenville, S.C., this weekend. In Bakich’s mind, it all comes down to the team’s ability to recover.
“The beginning part of the week will be about recovery,” Bakich said. “It is one of those weeks where it’s a short week, but with a Big Ten schedule of being weekends only, I would anticipate that that’s going to be a consistent model of how we structure our activity — to use the beginning part of each week to just recover and then kind of slowly build up so that we’re 100% going into Friday.”
Considering the 32-man roster traveling limit on teams this season, recovery and strong play from Michigan’s starters will especially play a role in the Wolverines’ success against the Boilermakers. Not having those extra players in the bullpen may present an issue, but Bakich knew heading into the season that this was something he would have to deal with week-to-week.
Michigan kicks off its four-game series against Purdue this Friday, which includes a doubleheader on Saturday. If the Wolverines are able to make adjustments throughout the series and utilize their roster depth, they may be able to follow up their strong opener with more wins.
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