Over four games last weekend, the Michigan baseball team scored 11 runs.
Yesterday, it scored 12.
The Wolverines (7-1 Big Ten, 18-8 overall) crossed the plate four times in each of the first three innings in a 12-4 win over Toledo (3-3, 9-16).
Five different batters drove in runs, led by juniors Zach Putnam (4 RBI), Kevin Cislo (3) and senior Nate Recknagel (2).
But how Michigan scored was more impressive than how much.
The Wolverines hit three home runs, including one by Recknagel that cleared the 20-foot wall beyond the left-field wall..
“I fouled off two pitches,” Recknagel said. “And the guy just threw me a fastball right down the middle and it’s kind of hard to miss.”
After earning two leadoff walks and getting thrown out on an attempted steal to open the bottom of the first, the Michigan offense finally began to click. Recknagel recorded a double for the first hit of the game and Putnam followed with a three-run homer to start the scoring.
The Wolverines continued their roll for the next two innings, smacking 12 hits and taking a 12-1 lead. Michigan put the game away by the third inning, allowing some of the players on the bench to see action.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to get some guys in there,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “I told the guys, good teams are supposed to beat some teams pretty handily, and we hadn’t done that in a while.”
Cislo’s three RBI came as a bit of a surprise. At the top of the lineup, the junior had only eight RBI all season before yesterday’s game.
“I just stayed consistent with what I do at the plate,” Cislo said. “I just try to hit line drives and get on base. I was hitting the ball well, and when my teammates are getting hits, it’s contagious.”
At times, the team struggled to score runes last weekend against Penn State, stranding eighteen runners in their last two games against the Nittany Lions.
But the slump began far before the Penn State series. Michigan has only averaged 3.6 runs per game over its last 10 games, more than two runs below the team’s season average. Lucky for the Wolverines, the pitching has been stellar, carrying them to eight victories over that stretch.
“It’s about time for our team,” Cislo said. “Its about time that we had that breakout game, because we haven’t been backing our pitchers lately, and have been scoring just two or three runs, which isn’t been helping ourselves.”
Yesterday’s big game could give the team confidence heading into this weekend’s series against Illinois, which is tied for second in the Big Ten.
“Games like this definitely could give us momentum in Big Ten play this weekend,” Recknagle said. “We hope it continues. We hope the ball keeps rolling for our hitting.”