For the first time in a long time there is reason for optimism at the Fish.

The Wolverines will take on Central Michigan for the second-straight time. On Sunday they fell victim to the Chippewas 12-8 after surrendering eight runs in the fifth inning at the Butler Classic in Indianapolis.

“We’d really like to get back at Central,” senior Gino Lollio said. “That was a team we could beat, we’re excited to get another shot at them.”

Due to the nature of Michigan winters, the baseball team was forced to open its season on the road for 16 games before its home opener today. Playing 10-plus games in unfamiliar confines can be quite a daunting task, and all too often, the Wolverines get back to the Fish with a record that is seemingly impossible to recover from.

“It’s tough, but it’s not like we really have a choice in the matter,” Lollio said. “We play a lot of the games at neutral sites, not road games, so that makes it a little easier.”

There was no room for optimism at last year’s home opener. The Wolverines struggled mightily out of the gate last season. By the time they played their first game in Ann Arbor, they were a dreadful 2-10. Even though they won six of their first seven at the Fish, they could never climb out of that enormous hole.

But today the Wolverines will open with a respectable 7-9 record.

“The road is great for team bonding,” coach Rich Maloney said. “But, it’s always easier to play at home. We’re excited to be home for pretty much all of April.”

The Wolverines have to be excited considering they will play 18 of their next 24 games at the Fish.

Last year’s home opener was one of the few bright spots for Michigan. After trailing 3-2 in the top of the eighth to Bowling Green, Lollio answered with a two-run homerun that gave Michigan a 4-3 win. The senior is hoping for a similar outcome this year.

“It would be great to get off to a good start here,” Lollio said. “Hopefully I can contribute to a ‘W’ again.”

The outfielder is excited to finally play in front of a home crowd.

“There’s nothing like seeing familiar faces in the crowd,” Lollio said. “It’s been a long time since we had that.”

Lollio also likes the familiarity that playing at the Fish brings.

“When it gets warm we practice there every day,” Lollio said. “We’re more comfortable there then anywhere else.”

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