“Everyone’s happy right now,” said freshman right-hander Matt Ogden at the culmination of the Coastal Carolina Tournament in South Carolina.
The Michigan baseball team finished the tournament at 2-2, winning against Alabama-Birmingham, 3-1, and Connecticut, 7-5. The team lost to Coastal Carolina twice, 7-3 on Friday afternoon and 6-2 on Saturday afternoon. But despite the two losses, the team returned to Ann Arbor in good spirits.
“I think both of the Coastal games were winnable,” said Michigan coach Rich Maloney.
No one scored in the first three innings of the Chanticleers (13-6 overall) game on Friday, and Michigan did not score a run until the top of the seventh inning. Sophomore first baseman Brett Winger scored the first run for the Wolverines, followed by senior catcher Coley Crank and sophomore catcher Cole Martin. Michigan was only down 5-3 by the bottom of the seventh but didn’t score in the last two innings.
“I think the score was appropriate,” Ogden said. “We didn’t have that vibe going into the game like we usually have.”
Senior right-hander Brandon Sinnery opened the game for the Wolverines and didn’t allow any runs in the first three innings. However, in 5.2 innings of work, he allowed seven hits and four walks.
But Sinnery’s teammates don’t blame him for the loss.
“I thought he did well,” Ogden said. “He went out there and battled like he always does.”
If anything, Friday’s loss motivated the team to play even harder the next morning against the Blazers (13-7). Junior right-hander Ben Ballantine opened the game for Michigan, and in his seven innings of work, he gave up just two hits and four walks while striking out four batters.
“It was definitely exciting,” Ballantine said. “It was a hard-fought game all throughout.”
Ogden came in as the relief pitcher for Ballantine in the eighth inning.
“It was kind of a pitchers’ duel for most of the game until we finally got a lead,” Ballantine said. “Then we brought in Ogden to finish it and he did a fantastic job. He didn’t let the pressure get to him.”
By the fifth inning, the score was tied, and Michigan didn’t bring in the win until the ninth inning. Crank led off the ninth with a blast over the left-field wall, hitting his fourth home run of the season and 27th of his career.
Freshman infielder Eric Jacobson scored the final run for the Wolverines.
After the team’s exciting Saturday morning win, they went right into their next game — Coastal Carolina, round two.
Fifth-year senior right-hander Kolby Wood started the game, though he is just coming out of the recovery stages from a shoulder injury he sustained last year. In the first inning, he gave up two runs on a pair of hits and was taken out before the inning ended.
“Unfortunately, he just wasn’t quite (ready) yet, and so we gave away some freebies and we gave a couple runs early in the game,” Maloney said.
Sophomore right-hander Alex Lakatos came in as the relief pitcher, and in 4.2 innings he allowed seven hits and a run with four strikeouts.
The score was tied up until the sixth inning, when the Chanticleers took the lead, 3-2. In the seventh inning, Michigan had the bases loaded, but Coastal Carolina reliever Aaron Burke got a strikeout, ending the Wolverine threat.
“It was a questionable call,” Maloney said. “We were right there to win the game late and then Coastal kind of took over.”
Michigan will have another opportunity to face off against the Chanticleers in May, this time in Ann Arbor.
“Hopefully, when they’re at our place, we’ll have a great crowd and we’ll have an opportunity to get over the top again,” Maloney said.
But Saturday’s game against Coastal Carolina wasn’t all a disappointment.
“One thing that was great was (that) we only had three walks in this game,” Maloney said. “We’ve been walking too many guys, and that’s something that we have to get through.”
The last game of the weekend didn’t look too good for Michigan up until the seventh inning, when Michigan was still trailing Connecticut, 4-2. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, Winger hit a single to left field, bringing all three runners home.
Ogden finished the game, pitching the eighth and ninth innings. He did not allow a single hit from the Huskies (6-11) in these two innings of work.
“I feel good,” Maloney said. “I feel like we’re not too far away from where we want to be, but we’re not quite there yet. But it’s good to get that last win and end on a high note.”