Senior right-hander Blake Beers threw his third consecutive curveball in the dirt and racked up his third consecutive swing and miss to retire the batter. He walked to the dugout at the end of the fifth inning, greeted by his enthusiastic teammates.
It was Beers’s best start of the season to date; but it wasn’t enough. The Michigan baseball team held Michigan State to just four hits in the entire game, yet lost 3-0. Beers threw 100 pitches over 5.2 innings, allowing just one earned run, but in the end Michigan couldn’t come through.
“He was much better today. Just a better job of getting ahead of hitters, minimizing base runners,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “Between Blake and Joe (Pace) and Willie (Weiss), their stuff was excellent, they were all throwing mid 90s. That’s the hardest Blake’s ever thrown, touching 97 and he just had good stuff.”
The stellar defense the team has played throughout the season continued, with junior infielder Riley Bertram making a leaping catch in the fourth inning to snag a line drive heading for the gap. Fifth-year infielder Christian Molfetta also made several critical plays, and fifth-year infielder Benjamin Sems was in typical form, making several key contributions from shortstop.
“Throwing to (fifth-year catcher Griffin Mazur) gives everyone on the staff a ton of confidence, everyone on the defense is great so everyone has a ton of confidence throwing,” graduate right-hander Joe Pace said. “We know we have an elite defense in Sems and Bertram and Molfetta. … We have an elite defense and that’s really our strength as a staff because we trust them so much.”
Beers was replaced by Pace, who looked sharp as he allowed just one hit and no runs over 2.1 innings, continuing his strong start to the season. Junior right-hander Willie Weiss replaced Pace for the ninth with Michigan down two runs and he recorded three outs on the four batters he faced, although he would allow an insurance run by way of a solo blast.
“You talk about a guy who was just dominant, really found his stride,” Sems said of Beers. “I mean he was throwing 96, 97, that’s gonna play any day. He’s a grinder out there and he gave us everything, every opportunity that we need to win that game. He pitched really well.”
In the end, the off day hitting was not enough to capitalize on the stellar pitching for Michigan.
“It’s unfortunate we couldn’t create any offense behind (Beers),” Bakich said. “But we certainly pitched well enough to win today.”
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