When Ball State scored three runs off starting pitcher and freshman right-hander Kyle Clark in the first inning, it appeared the Cardinals just might ruin the Michigan baseball team’s final game of the season at Ray Fisher Stadium.
But the Wolverines refused to go quietly. Led by a seven-run explosion in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Wolverines outlasted the Cardinals. 16-10, on Tuesday night.
With the team coming off a long weekend against Northwestern, and with a critical Big Ten final series on tap with Penn State, Michigan couldn’t afford to throw its best pitchers against Ball State. So the Wolverine bats knew they would have to carry the load if they were to win their last home game of the year.
And they did just that.
Sophomore catcher Coley Crank smashed two homers and drove in six runs to pace the offense. Three other batters had four hits on the night, including senior utilityman Mike Kittle, who got the start at second base in his last ever game at the Fish.
Four Michigan pitchers combined to allow 10 runs on 14 hits, including Clark, who was making his first career start. After the rocky first inning, the Portage native settled down somewhat, but still lasted just 3.1 innings and gave up five runs.
But the team was still able to defeat the Cardinals — Michigan coach Rich Maloney’s former team — for the second time this season, with the first meeting coming in a tournament on March 12. The game concluded the Wolverines’ non-conference portion of the schedule, with just one Big Ten series left before the season-ending conference tournament.