When Michigan baseball coach Rich Maloney stepped onto the field at Sessions Stadium yesterday before his team’s game against Akron, he was just one win away from 500 career wins.
But with the threat of rain showers looming, earning the milestone didn’t look probable.
After an 90-minute rain delay, Michigan (7-2) found itself down 7-2 heading into the sixth inning. Maloney’s 500th win seemed even more unlikely.
But the Wolverines rallied after senior Nick Urban was bagged by a pitch and knocked out of the game. The play helped set up a two-run bomb by fifth-year senior and tri-captain Tim Kalczynski that cut the Zips’ lead to three. Sophomore Ryan LaMarre continued the offensive production with an RBI single to move Michigan within two.
The next inning, Wolverines knocked in five runs to complete the comeback. LaMarre knocked in a two-run single to give Michigan a 10-7 lead and secure Maloney’s 500th career victory as the game was called short after eight innings due to rain.
“I didn’t know about it until after the game when one of the assistant coaches brought it up, which I think speaks highly of Coach,” LaMarre said. “He didn’t mention it at all which means he’s putting our team first.”
But inconsistency plagued Michigan this weekend as it dropped its first two losses of the season at the Jacksonville Tournament. The Wolverines went 3-2 at the tournament and took longer than expected to give Maloney his landmark victory.
Maloney said he used the trip to get a better idea of his lineup after losing a majority of his starters to graduation or Major League Baseball.
In both of their losses, the Wolverines lacked consistent pitching, and the offense sputtered against Wisconsin-Milwaukee and host Jacksonville. With leads in both games, Michigan couldn’t capitalize once its bats cooled off and its pitching gave up a fury of runs.
The Wolverines responded to their first loss of the season with a dominating victory over Jacksonville, winning 21-3.
Senior pitcher Chris Fetter, who threw seven strikeouts and allowed just four hits in six innings to overpower Jacksonville in the first game, was the star of the weekend on the mound. Despite the struggles the offense had in previous games, the Wolverine batters lit up the scoreboard against the Dolphins. Led by LaMarre, they overpowered Jacksonville with a fury of runs throughout the game.
“This weekend, I think it was our offense’s turn to show what we can do if our pitchers happen to give a few runs,” LaMarre said. “We have no problem answering and putting some runs of our own.”