Mother Nature did her best job to help keep the Michigan baseball team out of the win column on Tuesday, somewhere the Wolverines have struggled in this season.

But just before the clouds opened up, releasing a downpour on Ray Fisher Stadium, Michigan’s bats opened their own floodgates in a come-from-behind 7-4 win in five innings against Western Michigan.

The midweek matchup pitted two of the worst-hitting teams in the country. Amongst 292 teams, the Wolverines (6-12 Big Ten, 16-35 overall) are ranked 278th, while the Broncos fare only slightly better — they sit at 263rd.

But Western Michigan (11-12 MAC, 24-27) looked dangerous at the plate from the get-go, leading off with a deep shot into the left-center field gap. Two batters later, third baseman Ryan McMillin homered to the deepest part of center field to jump out to a 2-0 first-inning lead.

In the third inning, McMillin — who entered the game with a team-leading four homers — smoked another one high over the left-field wall for his second two-run homer of the game.

Wolverine freshman pitcher Alex Lakatos — typically a reliever — struggled with consistency and was pulled, trailing 4-0, after McMillin’s second homer. In 2.1 innings, the righty gave up five hits and four walks, striking out four.

“He showed signs, but he just has to pitch more,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “He was throwing versus pitching. He threw some good breaking balls, but then he’d make a mistake with one … His command just wasn’t really good enough.”

A large rainstorm — which had already bumped the game’s starting time ahead by 20 minutes — moved in during the third inning, threatening to end the game early.

But in the fourth inning — with urgency mounting to come back before rain halted the game — the Wolverines finally broke through, thanks in part to miscues from the Broncos.

Freshman catcher Cole Martin reached on an error by the pitcher and sophomore center fielder Patrick Biondi walked, bringing up junior designated hitter Coley Crank.

Crank — Michigan’s leader in RBI with 31 — sent a laser into left field to score both runners. Two hitters later, sophomore Derek Dennis hit another scorcher into left for a two-run double to even the score.

“It was nice to see Derek Dennis get that big hit,” Maloney said. “He had the two-run double in the gap and (it seems like) we haven’t had that all year.”

The Wolverines loaded the bases in the fourth with no outs, and freshman right fielder Michael O’Neill’s sacrifice fly brought in the game-winning run and allowed the other two runners to advance to second and third.

Biondi followed with a grounder to score another runner and Michigan put up its third tally of the inning on a wild pitch, stretching the lead to 7-4.

“Have we ever had — the whole year — two big innings in a row?” Maloney asked between laughs. “I’m not sure if it’s happened, but it happened today.

“It was just nice to score seven runs, because for us, we haven’t done it very much this year. Hopefully, we can continue to hit the baseball into the weekend, and then build for next year.”

With the rain coming down hard in the fifth, senior hurler Matt Gerbe — who replaced Lakatos in the third — finished off Western Michigan. Gerbe didn’t allow a base runner in 2.2 innings of work to earn the win.

The Broncos took the field for the bottom of the fifth, but before a Wolverine hitter could step to the plate, the umpires called for a rain delay. After 30 minutes, the game was officially called.

Five innings are needed for a game to officially count, and with Michigan leading, it was enough to end the game and the Wolverines’ seven-game losing streak.

Michigan players — who’ve endured a season filled with mounting losses and injuries to key players — took advantage of the opportunity to celebrate. Moments after umpires called the game, the Wolverines ran back onto the field, using the tarp covering the infield as a slip-and-slide.

Michigan hosts Penn State this weekend in its season finale. Maloney — pleased that his team has stuck together through the adversity — foresees his team’s camaraderie translating into a bright future.

“That’s really good,” Maloney said of his team’s celebratory antics. “It’s been hard on all of us, but reality is, it is what it is at this point. We’re building for the future and you want the kids to have fun and hopefully they’ll carry it into this weekend and then certainly, we want to do a big turnaround for next year.”

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