Maybe it wouldn’t win an Oscar, but it seemed like a pretty good script for the Michigan baseball team.

After playing dead for the first two months, Michigan would rise from the ashes and get on a hot streak just in time for the bulk of its conference season. The Wolverines acted the part for a few days.

They earned a dramatic 6-5 comeback victory against Purdue in West Lafayette on Sunday to avoid being swept and followed it up with a 13-3 drubbing of Bowling Green on Tuesday.

The bats looked to be heating up and confidence was on the upswing. A three-game winning streak coming into the weekend’s conference series against Illinois would have done wonders for team morale.

And then Toledo four-hit Michigan in a 3-1 loss on Wednesday night and the Wolverines’ mojo was beaten back down.

“We definitely had a lot of momentum after (Tuesday’s) win,” junior third baseman John Lorenz said after Wednesday’s game. “It was a big boost to our team. We really haven’t had a game like that all season. So (Wednesday) was definitely a little bit of a letdown, but we’re not going to let that affect us in the Big Ten.”

With the Illini (3-3 Big Ten, 11-17 overall) just a game up on Michigan in the conference standings, this weekend’s series at Ray Fisher Stadium could push the Wolverines into — or further away from — the playoff race.

Michigan (2-4, 9-22) is tied with four teams for the seventh (and 10th) spot in the conference and just one game separates the fourth-place and last-place teams in the conference.

“The reality is we got to have the record in the Big Ten,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “That’s what matters. And we’ve got to find a way to compete and try to stay in the race for the playoffs. So it’s really, over the next 15 games, can we play better than those five teams?”

Playing better in general tops the list of Michigan’s concerns.

The Wolverines are last in the conference in batting average, slugging percentage and ERA and lead the Big Ten in the dubious categories of strikeouts (offensive), wild pitches and most importantly — losses. These all need to turn around if the team wants to even contend to reach the Big Ten Tournament.

But it’s not like Michigan hasn’t been doing everything it can to turn things around.

“We’re going to keep fighting,” Maloney said. “We’re not happy with some of the mistakes we’re making. I was out here early with guys the last two days and we’re going to be out everyday working our tails off trying to get better. That’s all I know.”

Brandon Hohl and the Illini will look to keep the Wolverines down. The sophomore third baseman is hitting .347 with 23 RBI and four home runs, third best in the conference.

“I always want to beat those guys because I played with some of them in high school,”said Lorenz, who is from Frankfurt, Ill. “We’ve got a great opportunity this weekend to make up some ground in the Big Ten and we’re just going to look forward to it.”

Illinois has slugged 12 home runs, but as Maloney pointed out, a lot of those can be attributed to the wind blowing out in the open fields of Champaign. What he does anticipate, is a dual of small ball.

“They’re going to be a scrappy team,” Maloney said. “They’re going to run a lot, they’re going to play hard and they’ll be gritty. It’s going to be a battle between two teams fighting for their identity.”

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