With two victories yesterday, Minnesota not only swept the Wolverines in a rain-shortened weekend series, but it took a 74-73 edge in the teams’ all-time series. Dating back to its first game in 1893, the Minnestoa-Michigan matchup rarely fails to excite.
“You always know, going into the Minnesota series, that it is going to be a battle,” junior catcher Jake Fox said. “It’s going to be all-out war with each team going at each other.
“You always look forward to (a game versus Minnesota), because it’s fun. (The series) is fun in the games that you win, and its even fun, sometimes, in games that you lose because you know it’s such a battle, and it’s just good baseball.”
Yesterday’s victories improved Minnesota’s record in the last four years against the Wolverines to 12-2. Although Michigan lost the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader 9-3, it played Minnesota tight in an 8-7 game-two loss. Having felt that they could have won the game, many Wolverines expressed the confidence they gained from losing to the Big Ten’s best team (Minnesota currently sits atop conference standings with a 6-0 Big Ten mark.
“I think (Michigan) coach (Rich) Maloney put it well when he said, ‘If that’s the best the Big Ten has to offer, I think we’re going to be right in the hunt for the whole year,’ ” sophomore Matt Collins said. “I think we compete with (Minnesota) on a day-to-day basis.”
Although Maloney has only coached 24 games in a Wolverine uniform, he realizes the importance of the storied series, especially in today’s context.
“Minnesota is an outstanding program, and they’re certainly one of the team’s we’re going to have to be able to beat to move into the top eshelon,” Maloney said.
Only 38 short of DiMaggio: For the first time in two months, Jake Fox finished a game without a hit. The Wolverine catcher – who last went “0-for” on February 23 against Georgia Tech – snapped an 18-game hitting streak yesterday against the Golden Gophers. In game one of a doubleheader, Fox struggled at the plate, going 0-for-2 with a walk. Although the first game ended Fox’s streak, he bounced right back in game two with a 2-for-3 line that included a walk and an RBI.
With Fox currently holding a .360 batting average and leading the team in homeruns (8) and slugging percentage (.708), one would think the junior would be satisfied – but Fox still believes that his game has room for improvement.
“Right now, I’m not hitting the ball as well as I’d like to hit, but I’m hitting pretty well,” Fox said. “I’ve told Coach Maloney that I don’t feel like I’m seeing the ball that well, and he says, ‘Well, if these are some of your worst days, then I can’t wait to see your best days.’ “
Sophomore second baseman Nick Rudden also had a hitting streak (12 games) snapped in game one of the doubleheader.