It started as an unorthodox game of pitching yesterday at The Fish. It ended in the traditional Michigan slugfest that Wolverine fans are growing used to. Michigan prevailed 11-9 over Eastern Michigan, thanks to senior Jordan Cantalamessa’s three-run walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth.
Michigan (3-1 Big Ten, 12-10 overall) was cruising after five solid innings from freshman Craig Murray and sophomore Drew Taylor, but their replacements forced Cantalamessa’s late-inning heroics.
Michigan ended up using seven pitchers in the game. The pitch-by-committee approach worked early, but the bullpen allowed eight runs in the final three innings, eating up the lead that Michigan had held all game.
“We threw everybody we had,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “Ali (Husain) would have had to pitch the rest of the game. We were just hoping somebody would step up.”
Husain stopped the bleeding as best he could, replacing fellow freshman Derek Feldkamp in the top of the ninth after Eagles first baseman Luke Beeler tied the contest with his second homerun of the game. After allowing a single, Husain picked off catcher Matt Moffet at first. The out proved crucial when Eastern shortstop Brian Bixler doubled and later scored.
“I’m happy the coaches can trust me in a situation like that,” Husain said. “I didn’t do the greatest job, but I did good enough. When you have hitters like we have, you have a little room for error.”
When Husain did shut the door on the Eagles’ rally, the heart of the Michigan order got its chance in the bottom of the inning. Sophomore second baseman Nick Rudden and senior third baseman Brock Koman were both beaned and senior catcher Jake Fox beat out a double play to put runners on the corners for Cantalamessa’s dramatics.
“It was 2-and-2, one out and I was just trying to get it into the outfield somewhere,” Cantalamessa said. “(Ryan Ford) threw me a changeup, I stayed back on it and it felt good.”
While the veterans of the ball club saved the day, the youngsters gave it the kick start. Freshman shortstop Jeremy Goldschmeding put the first runs on the board with his two-run homerun in the third, finishing 2-for-4 on the day with two RBIs and two runs scored. Sophomore right fielder Chris Burhans followed up with a two-run homerun of his own in the sixth inning, giving the Wolverines a seemingly safe 6-1 lead.
“We expect the whole team to do their part,” Cantalamessa said. “That’s exactly what we need. If we’re going to be good, we need everybody to do well.”
The Eagles made it a new game in the seventh, working through three Michigan pitchers to score four runs, two of them coming from third baseman Derrick Peterson’s double.
“Right now, we just have no one with experience,” Maloney said. “Any situation we bring someone in, it doesn’t make much of a difference. We just keep running guys out there in hopes that someone will step up.”