Michigan baseball’s home opener last weekend looked like a
walk in the park for the Wolverines, as the Wolverines ganged up on
Detroit and Oakland for large, ego-boosting wins.

This weekend could be a different story.

Michigan will return to The Fish on Friday for its first game of
its Big Ten schedule against Minnesota (10-8). Although the Golden
Gophers are the defending conference champions and the preseason
pick to win this year, Michigan coach Rich Maloney believes that,
ready or not, it is time for his team to get the show on the
road.

“We’re going to play an outstanding team in
Minnesota,” Maloney said. “We’re going to have to
play well to win. Certainly, we don’t take the team for
granted, and we’re ready to see what we’ve got.
It’s a great time right now to see where our program’s
at.”

Maloney recognizes the Wolverines’ weaknesses, and is
quick to name off a litany of drills and techniques that they have
spent time on this week. He thinks, if Michigan sticks to the
fundamentals, it will come out on top this weekend.

“This can be a really complex game,” Maloney said.
“But sometimes, it’s pretty simple. If you throw
strikes, and don’t walk many guys, you play solid defense,
you’ll probably hold them down to a reasonable number of
runs. And if you don’t strike out on the offensive end, and
you get some runs when you get the opportunity, and get timely
hits, you’ll probably end up playing a great game of
baseball.”

It may take more than that to overcome the powerful Minnesota
squad. The Golden Gophers feature the current Big Ten Player of the
week, shortstop Matt Fornasiere. In last weekend’s Iowa
classic, the sophomore batted .778 and drove in seven runs in three
games. In the 11th inning against Northern Illinois, he came in as
a pinch hitter, and supplied the game-winning single in the
Gophers’ 5-4 victory.

Although Michigan’s record currently sits at .500, it
reached that point by playing mediocre teams. Maloney believes that
these wins, although minor in stature, provide the Wolverines with
some much-needed self-assurance.

“I definitely think that any time you win games,
it’s a confidence booster,” Maloney said. “With
the young program we have right now, we need to have success. I
think the games against Detroit were exactly what we
needed.”

This week, Michigan was able to accomplish something that had
evaded it thus far this season.

“This was the first full week that we could practice
outside, so we’ve played a lot of simulated games,”
Maloney said. “We’ve really been preparing to play
baseball outdoors. Our guys needed to see how to knock the ball off
the bat.”

Even if Michigan is not able to pull out wins this weekend,
Maloney wants his Wolverines to see that these games are only the
beginning, and that a great deal of the season remains.

“With these four games, well if you think about it,
it’s just one game at a time,” Maloney said.
“Each game is 1/32 of the season as far as the Big Ten season
is concerned. These four games all count the same (as the others)
if you think about it.”

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