Sophomore infielder Eric Jacobsen and sophomore outfielder Will Drake held brooms aloft in the pregame huddle, reminding their teammates that victory in Sunday’s game would complete a three-game sweep of the “Maize and Blue World Series” intrasquad tournament.
Jacobsen and Drake’s Maize team backed up its taunts, winning 12-3 in an eight-inning exhibition on a sunny afternoon at Ray Fisher Stadium. Sophomore outfielder Zach Zott reached base four times for the Maize squad, and contributed an RBI double and an RBI single.
Senior outfielder Patrick Biondi added a double, a two-run single and two walks to help give redshirt freshman right-hander Ryan Gallagher the win. Gallagher threw 3 2/3 innings, walking two batters while allowing no hits or runs.
In Thursday’s victory in the first game of the series, the Maize team scored six runs in the fourth inning to beat the Blue side, 7-3. Freshman infielder Matthew Dacey plated two runs later in the inning with a single to right field, taking advantage of consecutive fielding errors on bunt attempts by the Blue defense.
The Maize held the Blue team scoreless through eight innings before allowing three runs to score in the ninth, one on a single to left field by junior first baseman Brett Winger.
Zott carried the Maize to another win on Friday evening with a two-run home run in the second inning, which set the tone for the Blue team’s 6-3 defeat.
Sophomore right-hander James Bourque threw four solid innings and redshirt junior John DiLaura’s two doubles all but ensured a Maize victory in the seven-inning contest.
“It was good to see them get greedy,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said of the Maize team’s performance. “There are some guys that are definitely experienced, guys like Pat Biondi, who are good leaders, and their leadership was on display which allowed their team to come away with a weekend sweep.
“There’s a lot of good players here that can just lead by example. But we’re really trying to develop leaders and create an identity of Michigan baseball.”
Bakich recently brought in mental conditioning coach Brian Cain to work with the team, saying that the mental aspect of the game is something the Wolverines need to work on throughout the rest of the off-season.
“I think physically we’ve been there,” Gallagher said. “The biggest thing we need to work on is the mental game.”
Gallagher pointed to breathing techniques and other strategies the Wolverines can use on and off the field to improve their overall mental preparedness.
“We’re going to make huge strides with (the mental aspect) and with this coaching staff,” Zott said. “They preach competition and doing what you have to do to win. I think we got some serious momentum.”
A major contributor for the Maize team throughout the weekend, Zott admitted that the Blue team won’t forget about being swept; they will be forced to consume a plate of beans and serve steaks to members of the Maize team at a December holiday party as the result of a pre-series bet.
However, both sides will benefit from playing in a formal game situation as opposed to standard offseason practices, according to Gallagher. He also spoke highly of Bakich and the new staff.
“Any time we have the opportunity to experience a game-like situation, it’s obviously going to help us. … Any time we play a game, we try to make it as competitive as possible,” Gallagher said.
“I speak for the whole team when I say we love Coach Bakich,” he continued. “The coaching staff is phenomenal. We’re excited to work with them, and we’re looking forward to the spring.”