Statistically, the Michigan baseball team (7-9) hasn’t been playing its best. The team has lost five of its the past six games — most of which were winnable, according to coach Rich Maloney. But the team refuses to lose spirit when looking ahead to the Coastal Carolina Tournament this weekend.
“This past weekend, we actually played really well,” Maloney said, referring to the LSU Tournament in Baton Rouge, La.
On Sunday morning, they ended their five-game losing streak with a nail-biting 6-5 win over Notre Dame.
“I took a lot of positive signs from this last weekend,” said senior righthander Brandon Sinnery. “We actually pitched pretty good.”
Sinnery started the weekend on the mound for the Wolverines and allowed no walks in eight innings during Friday’s LSU matchup.
But the Wolverines didn’t fare well earlier in the weekend. Michigan lost to LSU, 6-0, on Friday; to Notre Dame, 2-0, on Saturday; and again to LSU, 6-4, on Saturday.
“I don’t think we’re as far off as it might seem,” Maloney said.
Despite the tough competition, the Wolverines tallied 11 hits and three home runs in the second LSU game.
“Even though the game wasn’t a victory, I think we probably should have won the game,” Maloney said. “We deserved to win the game. But I was pleased with the way our guys played.”
The team is hoping all of their “almost-wins” will be real wins this weekend, when they head down to South Carolina to play against Coastal Carolina (9-6), Alabama-Birmingham (12-5) and Connecticut (6-8).
“(Coastal Carolina is) a very well-coached team,” Maloney said. “They’re an outstanding program, so we’ve got great respect for them.”
The last time Michigan faced off against Coastal Carolina was in 2010, and Michigan lost in both games. This year, the Wolverines will get two chances at redemption — once this weekend and once again May 8-9 at Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor.
Last year’s game against Connecticut also ended in a loss, 16-9. When the Wolverines played against Alabama-Birmingham in 2006, they lost 5-4. The team definitely has its work cut out for it this weekend.
Sinnery’s solid and reliable pitching this season is keeping him in the starting lineup for Friday’s game.
Sophomore right-fielder Michael O’Neill’s outstanding season hit a bump in the road last Friday when the LSU pitching staff snapped his 10-game hitting streak.
The Wolverines are focusing on the fundamentals in practice, but Maloney tweaked this week’s practices to cater to the playing styles that they’ll see this weekend.
“We know that Coastal likes to steal and they like to bunt so we’re working a lot on defense,” Maloney said.
This week’s practice has boosted the players’ confidence going into this tournament.
“I like the attitude of the team and the way they keep trying to learn and get better,” Maloney said. “They’re just a play, a pitch, a hit away from having three or four more wins.”