What do Bachman Turner Overdrive and Michigan baseball have in common?
They take care of business.
The Wolverines have won 10 straight midweek games against Mid-American Conference opponents. Their last loss came against Eastern Michigan on May 5, 2004. Michigan hopes to continue the trend this afternoon when it squares off against Toledo at the Fish at 3:05 p.m.
“We’re a better team, and we need to go out there and beat them,” said junior Leif Mahler following Michigan’s Sunday win over Minnesota. “We’ll need good pitching, and we’ll need to wait for our pitch and hit the ball real well.”
Michigan has already beaten two MAC teams this season – Central Michigan and Bowling Green – with solid pitching in both games. Against the Falcons, redshirt freshman Ben Jenzen tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings, and the Wolverines pulled away for a 7-4 victory. A week later against the Chippewas, Michigan’s bullpen combined to throw 6 1/3 innings, allowed just one run to go along with nine strikeouts.
The Wolverines’ pitching staff face a lineup that is hitting just .257, good for ninth in the 12-team MAC.
Leading the Rockets’ meager hitting attack is senior Jake Watson, who leads the team in batting average (.337), hits (28) and RBI (21).
The Wolverines will also have to stay on top of their offensive game. The Rockets are just eighth in the MAC in fielding, meaning the more Michigan puts the ball in play, the more likely Toledo is to make an error.
Mahler leads the Wolverine offense with a .352 batting average and 31 hits.
The team also hopes getting hot at the plate today will carry over into this weekend’s series against Ohio State.
“(Playing well) can be a big deal, especially offensively,” Mahler said. “If you’re hitting real well on Wednesday, that’s the kind of thing where you keep that momentum going into the weekend.”
But Mahler said the team isn’t overlooking the Rockets.
The Wolverines can gain momentum from a strong performance, but they can just as easily lose it with a poor one.
And with conference-leading Ohio State around the corner, lost momentum could be disastrous for Michigan, which is trying to climb back to the top of the Big Ten standings.
Freshman Mike Wilson is the projected starter for the Wolverines. He has made five appearances out of the bullpen this season.
In his last outing against Central Michigan, Wilson struck out four batters and allowed two hits in two scoreless innings.
“Last year in the midweek games against the MAC conference and the other teams from
Michigan, we took care of business against all of those teams,” senior catcher Jeff Kunkel said. “And we expect to do the same with Toledo.”