There are several reasons to explain the Michigan baseball team’s two midweek losses: too many errors, a lack of hitting, inconsistent relief pitching, etc. Yet Wolverines’ coach Rich Maloney feels his squad’s downfall may stem from a less obvious problem: too much effort.

“I think everyone’s trying so hard, and that’s the problem — the other guys try to do too much,” Maloney said.

The team has suffered due to injuries to sophomore right fielder Michael O’Neill, junior shortstop Derek Dennis, and freshman left fielder Will Drake.

“And now with (them) out of the lineup, (we) just have to relax and let the game come to them rather than putting that much pressure on themselves.”

O’Neill, who missed both games this week, sustained a bruised left hand after diving for a ball in Sunday’s loss to Michigan State. The sophomore outfielder has been one of the only consistent hitters for Michigan, batting .322 with 37 hits on the season. The Wolverines’ starter at shortstop last season, Dennis, has missed the majority of this year with an arm injury. Dennis’ most recent action for Michigan was in a series against Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, when he entered the game as a pinch runner.

The injury bug took another Wolverine during yesterdays’s matchup against Toledo, when Drake went down with a lower-leg injury after speeding down the first base line. Drake, who has undoubtedly been Michigan’s most impressive freshman, leads the team with 43 hits.

“He was hurting pretty badly when he was coming off, so I have a feeling he’s out for a while,” Maloney said.

In addition to a depleted batting lineup, the Wolverines are continuing to battle a slew of lingering injuries within their bullpen. Redshirt junior right-hander Bobby Brosnahan has missed a few starts already this season, while fifth-year senior right-hander Kolby Wood has struggled to get on the mound for nearly two years because of injuries. Add those pitchers to fifth-year senior right-hander Travis Smith’s season-ending arm injury, and Michigan’s bullpen is suffering from a lack of depth.

The injury bug has forced the youth of the Wolverine squad to step up both on the mound and at the plate. Maloney has utilized the midweek games as an opportunity to test out Michigan’s young talent, but he believes the increased pressure may be hurting the team.

“We’re making strides, and we’re improving — we don’t have as many strikeouts as we used to have,” said redshirt sophomore second baseman John DiLaura. “We need to try and hit more ground balls and more line drives, because lazy pop ups are easy outs at the college level.”

In Wednesday’s loss to the Rockets, Michigan’s bats fell silent without O’Neill, and even more so after Drake’s departure. The Wolverines had nine hits in the game but left 14 runners on base. The team squandered several opportunities to take the lead, but they were unable to get the “timely hit” Maloney has stressed all season. One such chance came in the bottom of the eighth, when senior catcher Coley Crank flied out with the bases loaded to finish the inning.

It’s apparent that the losses of O’Neill and Drake in the lineup will hurt the Wolverines’ hitting production, but the team can’t bear the entire weight of such injuries as they attempt to find replacements for the sluggers.

“With all the guys who are injured, we’re not an offensive juggernaut,” Maloney said. “We’re going to have to scrap it together, because we’ve got three of our best players out. We’re just going to have to pitch really well, play great defense, and scrap at the plate. We’re going to have to make the most of our opportunities.”

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