YPSILANTI— The numbers don’t lie.

Before the Oestrike Classic this weekend, the Michigan baseball team had only received one quality start from its pitchers. It’s no stretch to say that a team is going to have trouble winning games when its starters are getting pulled in the fourth and fifth innings.

Fittingly, Michigan went 3-12 during those games.

But something changed this weekend on the Eastern Michigan campus at Oestrike Stadium. All three Wolverine starters earned quality starts, and two of them got wins as Michigan swept the weekend competition with victories over Alma, Oakland and Eastern Michigan to move to 6-12.

“It’s huge,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “We pitched really well all weekend, which is very encouraging. We found ways to win which we hadn’t done all year. For the kids to show resiliency and fight and battle, we’re proud of them.”

The Wolverines had to sweat out the first game on Friday against Division-III Alma. Despite a strong performance on the mound from redshirt sophomore Tyler Mills, Alma overcame a three-run deficit and forced extra innings.

But a leadoff triple by freshman Michael O’Neill in the 12th inning put the Scots on their heels. Three batters later, junior John Lorenz ended the game with an run-scoring single to give the Wolverines the 4-3 win.

Saturday’s game marked another pitching duel. Redshirt sophomore Bobby Brosnahan traded zeroes with Oakland’s Aaron Wick for much of the afternoon. The 1-1 deadlock was snapped in the seventh inning when redshirt sophomore Kevin Krantz drove home sophomore Derek Dennis, who had reached on a leadoff double.

Brosnahan finished the afternoon with 7.1 innings under his belt, picking up his first victory of the season. He only allowed five hits and a run. Freshman Alex Lakatos nailed down the game with a five-out save.

The finale pitted Michigan against the Eagles, who had also won their first two games. The winner of Sunday’s game would take home the Oestrike Classic title.

In keeping with the theme of the weekend, the starters kept pace for much of the afternoon. Michigan sophomore Kyle Clark and Corey Chaffins of Eastern Michigan didn’t give the batters much to hit, and both pitched at least seven innings without surrendering more than five hits.

At the end of six innings, Eastern Michigan clung to a 2-1 lead. But Michigan wasn’t about to let a promising weekend get away. Lorenz led off the frame with a single to left field and redshirt junior Garrett Stephens followed with a walk.

Everyone in the stadium knew that the No. 8 hitter, redshirt freshman Zach Johnson, would be bunting. And it was a perfect one. Chaffins fielded the bunt along the third-base line and threw off his back foot to second baseman Zack Leonard covering first base. But Leonard dropped it.

All runners were safe, and two batters later sophomore center fielder Pat Biondi delivered the game-changing decisive blow with a three-run double to left-center field.

“I was looking for a fastball that was in the middle of the plate that I could drive,” Biondi said. “He kind of left it up a little bit and I put a good swing on it.”

The Wolverines added an insurance run in the seventh to put Michigan ahead, 5-2.

Clark came out after 7.1 innings and sophomore Ben Ballantine closed the door with the Wolverines’ second straight five-out save. He struck out four of the five hitters he faced.

“Three quality starts, it’s outstanding,” Maloney said. “That gives the whole team a lift.”

This weekend, Michigan’s starters each pitched 7.1 innings and allowed just a combined five earned runs. Perhaps the Oestrike Classic was the opportunity the team needed to get back on track.

“We’ve been scuffling a little bit lately,” Clark said. “But once we came out here, we just wanted to get after it and have some fun. I think everything’s starting to come together. Hitters have been barreling up some good pitches and pitching’s definitely coming along, so I think we’re looking good right now.”

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