The Opening Day rendition of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” was interrupted between verses with shouts of, “FI-SHER! FI-SHER!”
The fans weren’t cheering because they were excited to be at the Fish for the first time this year. Twenty members of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity were supporting senior Matt Fisher in an effort to get him into the game.
Last year, the same cheers during the home opener helped Fisher, a walk-on who made the team as a junior, make his Ann Arbor debut.
“The coach admitted last year that we had an influence on him giving Fisher an at-bat, so we’re trying to plant the seed that he should be in the game,” said junior Rich Nemesi, a member of the fraternity. “I think he likes about 80 percent of the attention, and 20 percent of the time, he wishes we weren’t here.”
Sophomore Kerry Hance, a defensive specialist on the Michigan volleyball team, lived in South Quadrangle last year next to sophomores Adam Abraham and Mike Wilson. After Friday’s volleyball practice, she and her teammates ran to the field to cheer for her former hallmates and her boyfriend, junior Nate Recknagel.
“They come to all of our games,” Hance said. “We come to all the games that we can, but we also have a (volleyball) spring season, so we’re missing all day (Saturday). We try to make it at least to the tail end of the games.”
Senior Jeff Monahan, a member of the Maize Rage, attended some of last season’s regular-season baseball games and the Big Ten Tournament. Monahan brings a cowbell to games, along with six or seven members of the Maize Rage to “yell nonsense at the other team.”
“To be honest, I’m a little ashamed because this is my first opening game at (The Fish),” Monahan said. “I haven’t been able to make it out the last three years, but I’ve always wanted to. . I think it’s something everyone should do at least once in their college career, make it out to Opening Day.”
The other side: Recknagel has been in both dugouts at The Fish for Michigan home openers during his collegiate baseball career.
Friday’s game marked the second consecutive home opener that Recknagel has played against his former team.
As a freshman at Oakland, he collected All-American honors and a had a team-high .351 batting average, but went 0-for-4 in one game against the Wolverines.
In his first home game as a Wolverine last season, he went 2-for-6 against his former team. On Friday, he was 2-for-4.
“I felt maybe there was some pressure last year, but it kind of subsided after I got my first hit, first at-bat,” Recknagel said. “Most of the team is revamped now, so I only know a couple of the guys. It was important because it was our first home game, so I saw it more as that than (important because) we were playing my old school.”
Pitching on the offensive: Sophomore pitcher Zach Putnam had twice as many RBI as earned runs in Friday’s home opener.
Batting cleanup, he was the only player to have multiple RBI, with four in as many at-bats.
“Obviously me being in the four-spot, my job is to drive in runs,” Putnam said. “So whenever I see guys on base, that’s just what I do. My mission is to get guys across the plate.”