Brutal weather proved to be a factor in the Michigan baseball team’s efforts toward victory against Minnesota this weekend.
Although Michigan’s offense was not affected by the weather, Michigan’s defense noticeably showed signs of being hampered in the field.
In the matchup between Michigan and Minnesota, both teams’ chaotic defensive play cost them a total of five runs in a doubleheader at the Fish.
Michigan junior leftfielder Jordan Cantalamessa and senior centerfielder Gino Lollio experienced a few misplays in the matchup against the Gophers. Cantalamessa over-ran a ball early in the fifth inning of the first game, which later cost the Wolverines a run.
Lollio then followed Cantalamessa’s misplay with his own difficulties in the field.
With the bases loaded in the fifth inning of the first game, Lollio took a step in, as a shot to center field, hit by Minnesota senior rightfielder Ben Pattee, rapidly flew towards him.
“I just read the ball wrong,” Lollio said. “It was just a bad read of the ball, and it was totally my fault. They hit it really well.”
The ball continued to soar over his head and fell for a double to give the Gophers some crucial runs en route to their victory over Michigan.
“He did have crazy wind going right at him today,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “You could even see that (Minnesota’s) players were misjudging the ball as well.”
With the wind blowing throughout the game, Michigan and Minnesota experienced trouble in the outfield.
“It was a difficult day in their position, but, at the end, Lollio’s play ended up to be huge,” Maloney said. “It was unfortunate.”
Despite Michigan sophomore pitcher Michael Penn’s effective pitching performance, the lack of defense forced more pressure on Penn throughout the game and consequently ruined his day on the mound.
“I thought Michael Penn pitched really well today,” Maloney said. “When you look at the box score you don’t see that, but he was pitching well. (Minnesota) hit a lot of little bloopers, and if we made that play in center, it would have ended up to be a low-scoring ball game.”
Also in the second game of the doubleheader, senior third baseman Brock Koman’s misplay in the fifth inning contributed to Michigan’s difficulty in the field.
“Well I couldn’t tell what truly happened,” Maloney said. “I thought that we got him. I guess because he dove and hit the ground then that’s when he lost control of the ball. You think you see the play clearly, but the umpire was right on top of it.”
Even though the Michigan defense was obviously affected by the nasty weather, the Wolverines do not feel that the weather is a handicap with their performance in the field. But, Maloney knows that playing ball in a warmer climate will allow a team to practice more.
“There’s no doubt playing in the North is a different environment than playing in the South,” Maloney said. “But, it’s the same for Minnesota, all the Mid-America Conference schools and a lot of the Big Ten schools. So, there is actually a lot more of us than there are them in the warm weather. Unfortunately, they seem to control the game. But, the truth of the matter is that we’re used to the weather. This is what we play in.”
Despite the recent defects on the defensive side of the ball, Maloney feels that the team is still en route to a successful season.
“I feel good about our team,” Maloney said. “Our kids battle. Their hearts are in the right place, but they just have to play better baseball.”
Even though the nasty weather may not go anywhere, Michigan is excited for the opportunity for take advantage of being in Ann Arbor for the upcoming games.
“Traveling takes a lot of wear and tear on you,” Lollio said. “Being home is great. Just having the familiar aspects of everything around us is wonderful. Being able to play on our field and having our fans around is good for our team.”