COLUMBUS — Another day, and another heartbreaking loss for the Michigan baseball team.
The Wolverines fell 11-8 to Iowa Saturday afternoon in the loser’s bracket of the Big Ten Tournament. The defeat, in all likelihood, ends Michigan’s season, as the team does not have a strong enough profile to make the NCAA field with an at-large bid.
Buoyed by a decent performance by starting pitcher and sophmore right-hander Brandon Sinnery, the Wolverines’ bats came alive in the fourth inning to put three runs on the board and take the first lead of the game. Michigan (14-10 Big Ten, 35-22 overall) added two more in the fifth and three in the sixth, powered by back-to-back home runs by sophomore third baseman John Lorenz and freshman shortstop Derek Dennis.
It appeared that the Wolverines would defeat the Hawkeyes (13-10 Big Ten, 30-27 overall) and get to have a rematch with Minnesota in the winner’s bracket. But Iowa didn’t quit.
The Hawkeyes chased Sinnery by scoring four runs in the sixth inning and cut the lead to 8-5. They added two more the next inning, trailing by just one run entering the eighth. Junior right-hander Kolby Wood allowed the first two batters to reach base, and after a sacrifice bunt advanced both runners to scoring position, shortstop and number-nine hitter Kurt Lee doubled over the head of redshirt senior rightfielder Nick Urban to score two and give Iowa the 9-8 lead.
Two more insurance runs that same inning ensured a Hawkeye win. Iowa plays again Saturday night against Minnesota, needing to defeat the Golden Gophers twice to emerge as the tournament champion and receive the automatic NCAA berth that comes with.
As far Michigan, the Wolverines’ season is done. The team was in strong position to win the tournament just one night ago, when it held a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning against Minnesota.
But the Gophers came back to win, as did the Hawkeyes on Saturday. The Wolverines will have to watch the postseason from home for the second straight year.