Michigan home opener set for Wednesday

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By Alex Taylor, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 26, 2013

While the Michigan baseball team has been able to play at various stadiums across the nation, it has yet to play a game at Ray Fischer — the stadium in which the team feels most comfortable playing in.

On Wednesday, the Wolverines (10-11 overall) will finally play hosts, this time to Western Michigan (7-16) at Ray Fisher Stadium in their first home game.

Michigan’s previous two home openers against Oakland and Western Illinois were canceled due to inclement weather. This is a recurring theme lately as Michigan was suppose to take on Yale yesterday at Citi Field in New York City, but the trip was cancelled due to a winter storm.

Just last weekend, the Wolverines had to play a home series at Adrian College due to unplayable field conditions at Ray Fischer. Michigan dropped this series, losing two of the three games, to the Fighting Leathernecks. While it’s defense and pitching kept them within striking distance, the Wolverines’ offense was unable to string together the necessary hits to win the game

But Michigan coach Erik Bakich and the rest of the Wolverines refuse to allow these external factors influence their on-field performance.

“Whether we play at Citi field or Adrian College it’s all the same,” Bakich said. “Our focus is going to be about what we need to do to win the ballgame.”

For Michigan, the opportunity to play at home offers it the chance to get into a routine — something the Wolverines haven’t been able to do with their recent schedule.

“Consistency is the thing we strive for the most,” Bakich said. “The consistency of just sleeping in our own beds and being at home and being in a familiar setting should carry over to our play on the field.”

A key factor in Michigan’s success thus far in the season has been the play of freshmen Travis Maezes, Jacob Cronenworth and Evan Hill. Hill was just named Big Ten freshmen of the week for his one-hit performance Saturday against Western Illinois, the second time he has won this award. Though major contributors, these freshmen will have to rely on the experiences of upper-classmen for tips on how the field will play.

“For the younger guys it will be the first time they will have ever played a real game on the field,” said junior outfield Michael O’Neill. “But the older guys know just how the field plays.”

Besides fall practices, Michigan hasn’t been afforded the opportunity to play much on Ray Fischer stadium because of the unusually cold spring.

The Wolverines will take on a Broncos team that hasn’t enjoyed much success this year. Highlights of their season include a victory over Minnesota and taking No. 30 Florida Gulf Coast, a team that Michigan lost to 11-6, to extra innings. Last May, the Broncos defeated Michigan 13-6 in Kalamazoo, Mich.

The Wolverines hope the advantages of playing at home, in front of their fans, will give them the chance to avenge last year’s defeat.

“It’s your home field, you just have an advantage,” O’Neill said. “It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s there.”