Due in large part to consistent and timely hitting, Michigan completed its first sweep of Ohio State since 1987. Instead of falling behind in the first few frames and trying to mount a comeback, the Wolverines scored early and often. Ohio State held a lead for just half an inning over the entire weekend.
Game two of Saturday’s doubleheader epitomized Michigan’s consistency under pressure. With two on and two out in the second inning, senior Mike Schmidt blasted a home run over the leftfield wall. The same situation presented itself in the very next inning, and freshman Adam Abraham responded the same way – with a two-out, three-run homer to left.
The Wolverines were clutch in Sunday’s finale, as well. When Ohio State took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Michigan answered with three runs of its own, stringing together four straight base hits after the first pitch of the game plunked junior Eric Rose.
“The irony is, in the Northwestern series, we couldn’t buy a hit,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “(Against) Toledo, we had 19 hits, but we left 14 runners on. We really hit the ball well in this series, and I’m proud of the guys. I’m excited about our lineup. I think we have power throughout the lineup, and it’s starting to show a little bit. . If the pitching continues to move forward like it is, if we play good defense, and we do get the timely hit, then we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
The sweep left the Wolverines with a confident, triumphant glow. They didn’t just beat a top Big Ten team; they also vanquished their fiercest rival.
“You never want to lose to Ohio State, and that’s why three-of-four (from) Ohio State wouldn’t have been (satisfactory), because we would have had to lose one,” senior co-captain A. J. Scheidt said. “Pulling off four games is just incredible. It wasn’t something I could have predicted or expected, but now that it’s happened I’m going to enjoy it.”
Throwing goose eggs: Before allowing a run in the sixth inning of Saturday’s first game, fifth-year senior Paul Hammond had pitched 19 consecutive scoreless innings, a streak that extended back to Michigan’s first Big Ten series, against Northwestern. Hammond immediately began a new streak after giving up the run, pitching a scoreless seventh inning to close out his complete game, 7-1 win.
“Hammond gave us a tremendous lift,” Maloney said. “I’m really happy for him, because he’s from Ohio, and he wanted that game in the worst way. I’m just really proud of him. We needed a champion effort, and he gave it to us.”
The Mason, Ohio, native had just one of the many brilliant showings from Wolverine pitchers in the series. Against an Ohio State team that came into the weekend leading the Big Ten in hitting, Hammond and his fellow hurlers allowed just nine runs over four games.
“(Throwing a string of scoreless innings) is something that you work hard to do, but you don’t expect,” Hammond said. “You just go out in every inning and try to set them down as best you can. Looking back, it’s awesome.”
Take me out with the crowd: Michigan had an extra man this weekend in the form of the 3,878 fans that flocked to the Fish for the Ohio State series. Friday and Saturday, the crowds were especially noisy and supportive, giving the team an extra boost.
Even on a chilly and overcast Easter Sunday, almost 600 spectators came out to watch the Wolverines complete their sweep of the Buckeyes.
“(The atmosphere) was outstanding,” Maloney said. “It means a lot to our team that we have a nice crowd, and certainly a boisterous crowd, so that’s exciting.”