The Wolverine baseball team jumpstarted their regular season by winning five of seven games during their spring trip in Florida and North Carolina. The team’s powerful hitting, solid fielding, focused pitching and exceptional teamwork could spark an unforgettable season.
Yesterday, the team capped off the Keith LeCair Invitational in Greenville, N.C., with a 1-0 victory over No. 10 North Carolina. The Wolverines finished the tournament with an overall record of 5-2. Senior co-captain Matt Butler’s game-winning double in the ninth inning gave Michigan the win. Sophomore shortstop Leif Mahler set the scene for Butler by opening the inning with a single, before sophomore left fielder Brad Roblin moved Mahler up to second base after a sacrifice bunt, a common small-ball technique often utilized by Michigan coach Rich Maloney.
But yesterday’s matchup was all about pitching. Junior Derek Feldkamp, who started on the mound for the Wolverines, got the team rolling. In his five innings of work, he left seven runners stranded and kept the Tar Heels scoreless. As good as Feldkamp was, it was the left-handed reliever Paul Hammond that stole the show after replacing Feldkamp on the mound in the sixth inning.
“Overall, our pitching was strong today,” Maloney said. “Paul performed better than Derek. He handled the pressure of a great opposing team well, and didn’t give up a single run.”
Butler had similar magic in Saturday’s game when he hit a walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning against No. 8 Georgia. Butler’s rip capped off Michigan’s three-run comeback in the final two innings to finally edge out Georgia 6-4. Butler now has a team-leading seven-game hitting streak. The victory also secured the first winning spring trip and the most wins on a spring trip for the Wolverines this century.
“The guys have taken ownership of their performance,” Maloney said. “Their efforts have paid off because they have had great success against the nation’s top teams. When these players continue to work and grow together as a unit, they will reap the benefits of the solid defense, timely hitting, and an incredible pitching depth that we have seen thus far. This will all make for one exciting season.”