Heading into this weekend”s four-game home series against Indiana (2-3 Big Ten, 13-16-1 overall), the Michigan baseball team (1-3, 12-12) should feel good about itself.
Although power-hitting outfielder Gino Lollio could be out for up to three weeks with a hand injury, the team”s bats have come alive.
“Our hitting is really coming around,” Michigan coach Geoff Zahn said. “With the aluminum bats you can really score some runs.”
The team did just that on Tuesday when they beat Bowling Green by a score of 16-4. On Wednesday, they put just four runs across the plate, but that proved to be sufficient as starting pitcher Rich Hill anchored a two-hit shutout of Eastern Michigan. Against the Eagles, a new star emerged as centerfielder C.J. Ghannam went 3-for-4 with a homerun.
“Ghannam is really hitting well,” Zahn said. “He is very important to our lineup.”
Heading into the Indiana series, the Wolverines have confidence in winning either a slug-out or a pitcher”s duel. Depending on who Indiana throws, the Wolverines may juggle their starting lineup a little bit. This is a luxury due to the strong production of so many players. Five members of the lineup are hitting above .300.
“We”ve said all along that we”ve got good pitching,” Zahn said. “We”ll adjust it to whomever they pitch.”
Indiana has proven that it can put runs on the board. On Wednesday, they defeated Indiana State 10-1. But it is doubtful that they”ll be able to score that many runs against the Wolverines formidable pitching staff.
Furthermore, the Wolverines” home park, Ray Fisher Stadium, has not been the home to very many high scoring contests this season.
The Wolverines rotation has included Bobby Korecky (RHP, 3-2, 2.36 ERA), Nick Alexander (LHP, 1-3, 5.52 ERA), Jim Brauer (RHP, 1-1, 4.64 ERA) Tim Leveque (RHP 1-1, 0.42 ERA). The major omission from the pitching rotation continues to be tri-captain Bryce Ralston. After two brief appearances, Ralston is still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
“He threw in a simulated game this week,” Zahn said. “Ralston is not quite ready yet so we are working him. I think he is trying to come back from the minimal amount of time. I”m still very optimistic.”
Even without Ralston, the Wolverines appear to have five solidified starters. Vince Pistilli (1-2, 6.16 ERA), who led the team with 11 starting nods last year, will be working out of the bullpen this weekend.
“Our pitching can keep us in ballgames no matter what,” Zahn said.