The Michigan baseball team plays in Division I. The Hillsdale nine compete in Division II. In this Big Ten Conference-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletics Conference matchup, one team entered the game as a heavy favorite, and here’s a hint, it wasn’t the Chargers.
A late addition to the Michigan schedule, Hillsdale never had a chance against the Wolverines, who came out and took care of business against a lesser opponent.
“In baseball anything can happen,” senior third baseman Brock Koman said. “(When favored) you have to come out and take control right away, and that’s what we did today.”
Michigan scored early and often, notching seven runs in the first two innings en route to the 9-1 win. The Wolverines played well defensively and received a fine outing from sophomore pitcher Phil Tognetti, who hurled five innings of four-hit ball, allowing just one run.
Take one for the team: For Koman, his final campaign in the maize and blue will push him further up the Michigan record books in categories like hits, RBIs and doubles. But the senior already owns one school record that many would like to avoid.
In the second inning yesterday, Koman was hit by a pitch for the 10th time this season and the 40th time in his career.
“This year, Coach (Maloney) has emphasized not getting out of the way and taking one for the team,” Koman said. “I’ve been doing that this year, I guess, maybe more than I have in the past.”
There’s no doubt that fearlessness at the plate has spread throughout the whole team. In last weekend’s series against Illinois, senior second baseman Jordan Cantalamessa took a pitch off the head and a bean-ball broke senior first baseman Nate Wright’s wrist.
“We emphasize real hard that if we get hit, we sprint down to first and don’t show any emotion, and these guys do it,” Maloney said. “We’ve got some guys with some guts. That’s the kind of attitude we’re trying to groom here for the future.”
Maize submarine: Freshman relief pitcher Ali Husain entered in the top of the ninth yesterday, allowing no runs on zero hits and one strikeout. The stat line may be generic for any relief pitcher, but his style is far from average.
Husain is one of the rare oddities found in baseball, delivering his pitches with a sidearm, nearly underhand motion.
“The way Ali was throwing, it would have been difficult for him to survive in that form, so he had to have some kind of niche,” Maloney said. “He might have found it.”
With a little more work, Husain may be looking forward to entering more games in the top of the ninth.
“Now I feel really comfortable with it,” Husain said. “Usually, I feel like I can throw strikes when I want.”