It was redshirt senior outfielder Nick Urban who made the play with the bases loaded in the third inning. He belted a line drive to center field, bringing in both redshirt junior Anthony Toth and sophomore Coley Crank for two runs.
The stage for Urban’s double and the Wolverines’ big third inning was set up just before Michigan began its six-run rally, eventually culminating in its 13-7 win Central Michigan on Wednesday. Toth started off the scoring with a single to right center that brought in freshman shortstop Derek Dennis. A wild pitch by Chippewas left-hander Bryce Morrow allowed freshman outfielder Patrick Biondi to run in for the score.
“Usually, the team that scores more than three runs in one inning is going to come out with the win,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “So any time you get the double is great. We were struggling getting that man in from third base and Nick was able to do that for us.”
With Toth on third and Crank on second, it was the perfect time for a big hit. Senior first baseman Mike Dufek attempted, but struck out looking and junior outfielder Ryan LaMarre walked.
So, Urban provided the answer when he drove home two runs. Dennis and senior third baseman Mike Kittle followed suit, tallying one RBI each, and Michigan ended the third inning with a five-run lead.
But Central didn’t let down, responding with two quick runs in the top of the fourth. With only a three-run advantage, Michigan switched up its pitchers in an effort to hold off a Chippewa comeback. Junior right-hander Travis Smith took the mound in relief of redshirt junior pitcher Matt Gerbe. Although Smith didn’t throw particularly well, the Wolverines still managed to get the next out on a ground ball.
Michigan then scored two more runs in the bottom of the fourth to regain a comfortable lead. Both teams scored another four runs, but the Wolverine lead was never in serious jeopardy.
LaMarre brought in one of those Michigan runs on a single to center field, in his first game back in the lineup since late February due to a broken thumb, which he suffered against Texas Tech.
“It was a lot of fun to get out there and get a few at-bats under my belt before the weekend,” LaMarre said. “Really, I just tried to loosen things up, but it definitely was a lot better than watching the game.”
As expected, LaMarre was a little rusty to start, striking out on his first at-bat. But he showed his resiliency by getting a hit, a run and an RBI on the day.
“Ryan hasn’t seen any game pitches in five or six weeks,” Maloney said. “He has been hitting at balls thrown by me in practice, but by no means are those breaking balls.”
While he may not be at 100 percent, LaMarre is making progress. He was fortunate to return to the lineup against Central — a team that is not a Big Ten competitor, but has established a recent history with the Wolverines. Michigan has lost two games to the Chippewas in the past two seasons.
“We haven’t beat Central since I’ve been here, so it was good,” LaMarre said. “These games are kind of tough, especially when you don’t know with the weather if you’re going to be able to play or not. It was good focus and we just got on top early and stayed there.”