Things just don’t seem to be looking up for the Michigan baseball team.

The Wolverines’ opponents have cashed in on their chances to beat up on Michigan — on Wednesday, it was Central Michigan’s turn. And in front of their home crowd, the Chippewas didn’t disappoint, knocking the Wolverines around, 9-4.

“Certainly, we didn’t play well enough to win today,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “It was disappointing. We gave up the big inning again in the second and third inning, and we consistently keep doing that, and if you give up the big inning, it’s hard to win. That’s just very frustrating for all of us and we just keep trying to work our way through it, and we just haven’t been successful.”

Michigan (1-2 Big Ten, 7-19 overall) struck first for the third consecutive game when freshman left fielder Alex Lakatos’ second-inning single scored junior designated hitter Coley Crank.

But the big inning, which has plagued the Wolverines all year, hit again, as Central Michigan (2-4 MAC, 13-17) responded with back-to-back three-run innings to build an insurmountable lead by by the fourth inning.

“When you give up those big innings, it sucks the wind out of you,” Maloney said. “We’ve done it so many times. It’s like you get punched so many times, it gets old. It helps kill your confidence.”

After the Chippewas took a 3-1 lead in the third, it seemed Michigan would be able to take the punch and roll with it — with some help from their opponents.

Freshman catcher Cole Martin led off with a single and sophomore center fielder Patrick Biondi — attempting to advance Martin to second with a sacrifice bunt — reached first base on an error. Fifth-year senior second baseman Anthony Toth successfully moved both runners over, before freshman right fielder Michael O’Neill hit a two-run single.

But Central Michigan rebounded with three runs in just one-third of an inning off redshirt freshman pitcher Logan McAnallen, who came in to relieve redshirt sophomore Tyler Mills. Mills was only scheduled to pitch two innings.

“Whenever we do get momentum, we give it right back, and that’s been a nemesis,” Maloney said. “We don’t get a lot of momentum, but whenever we do, we’re notorious for not being able to shut them down the next inning. It’s always like an uphill battle.”

Not everything went wrong for the Wolverines, though. Four freshmen shined as bright spots in a game that was as dreary for Michigan as the weather in Mount Pleasant.

Freshman relief pitcher Jake Engels pitched 3.1 innings of one-run ball. In his first multi-hit game, Martin, who went 2-for-4, scored his first career run.

O’Neill — the Wolverine’s most consistent producer — got his team-leading 13th RBI.

And Lakatos continued his strong play as the starter in left field. After going 5-for-9 in the Indiana series last weekend, Lakatos again came through with two hits, an RBI and a run scored.

As Michigan once again turns its attention to conference play in Purdue this weekend, and the Wolverines know the big inning stand in their way of winning ballgames.

“We’ve just got to play our way through it, and eventually, we can stop giving up those big innings,” Maloney said. “If we’re going to have any success, it’s going to be directly attributed to our ability to stop the big inning.”

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