Sophomore right-hander Cameron Weston stood on the mound with a 3-2 count in the bottom of the sixth against Michigan State. In what would become a defensive slugfest, Weston knew that maintaining his team’s lead could make the difference in winning the game.
After gathering his stance, Weston launched the ball and struck out the Spartan batter, gifting his team another opportunity to put runs on the board. Weston and the Michigan defense continued to dissect Michigan State’s offense to win the game 3-1.
“I was just having fun out there,” Weston said. “I was relying on my defense to get me quick outs. (Sophomore infielder Ted Burton) got a ton of ground balls today, I was just using them and I had trust in them that they would get anybody out that made contact.”
The Michigan baseball team (23-11 Big Ten) played its second game of the series against Michigan State (12-22 Big Ten) on Saturday. Both teams went cold to start the game, with each of the first three Wolverine and Spartan batters being retired immediately.
The tone of the game was set in the second inning when fifth-year shortstop Benjamin Sems stepped up to the plate.
On a 2-0 count, Sems smashed a homer deep into right field to open the scoring for the Wolverines. After a single by fifth-year catcher Griffin Mazur and wild pitches by Michigan State, sophomore infielder Ted Burton hit an RBI single to allow Mazur to score.
The third inning provided several scoring opportunities, but the Wolverines were unable to capitalize. Fifth-year outfielder Christan Bullock and sophomore infielder Jimmy Obertop were both walked, in addition to fifth-year catcher Christian Molfetta being hit by a pitch. However, each of the next three Michigan batters was relieved, leaving the bases filled and no runs to show for it.
The score remained stagnant at 2-1 until the seventh inning when sophomore infielder Tito Flores hit a homer into left field to widen the Wolverines’ lead.
“It puts everything at ease,” Weston said. “(We’re) staying locked in, but we know they’re going to keep putting up runs.”
Despite up-and-down play offensively, Weston and the Michigan defense remained strong throughout the game. Weston threw nine strikeouts and pitched seven scoreless innings, one more than redshirt sophomore left-hander Steven Hajjar’s total from the day before.
It’s no surprise that the Wolverines’ defense carried the team to the win. With continued offensive volatility, Michigan’s depth on the mound has been critical for keeping the team in games. The Wolverines play the Spartans again on Sunday for the final game of the series before heading into a Big Ten showdown against first-ranked Indiana.
“We’re just focusing on one game at a time,” Weston said. “All of our focus is on tomorrow and we’ll worry about (the Big Ten standings) when the time comes.”