After losing both games of a double-header Friday night against Iowa, the Michigan baseball team was certain about one thing: it had already lost its first Big Ten series of the season.
But there was something on the line for Saturday afternoon’s series final — the Wolverines looked to avoid its first conference sweep after the Hawkeyes’ defeated them 5-2 and 5-3 in a doubleheader the night before.
And Michigan (7-5 Big Ten, 25-14 overall) did just that in the team’s 7-5 victory at Ray Fisher Stadium.
It started in the second inning when senior first baseman Mike Dufek hit a home run to right field, just his second long ball of the season.
“Home run hitters hit their homers in 30 percent of their games,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “So let’s hope he hits a lot of them in the last 30 percent of the games. … Obviously, a home run is a big lift to the team, so he’d like to get some.”
After the Wolverines took the early lead, junior Ryan LaMarre hit his second home run of the season. In fact, LaMarre went 4-for-4 Saturday afternoon — he has recorded a hit in 19 of his last 20 games, including 13 straight.
But Iowa tied it up 2-2 heading into the fifth stanza before senior catcher Chris Berset broke the tie with a double to score two more runs for the Wolverines.
The Hawkeyes continued to stay in it for most of the game until sophomore designated hitter Coley Crank drove in two runs with a triple. Iowa never threatened again, and the two RBI gave Crank the team lead with 44.
“Our bats were on fire today and that helped out,” Crank said. “They shut us down (Friday) but (Saturday) was a different story. We had a bunch of home runs and a bunch of hits.”
But t was especially difficult for the Hawkeyes to counter the Wolverines’ performance from the mound.
Sophomore right-hander Brandon Sinnery opened the game for Michigan and lasted four innings, giving up just two runs. Junior righty Tyler Burgoon came in to close the deal in the fifth and pitched the rest of the way to pick up his team-leading sixth win of the year.
“Once you start getting more toward the end of the game you see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Burgoon said. “Then the closer-mode kicks in. I just wanted to get in there and shut down every inning.”
Burgoon struck out five batters, two of which ended the top of the seventh. In his last 12 appearances, Burgoon has given up just three runs. And he and the rest of the team are well aware of the win’s impact, saving them from a sweep, on the Wolverines’ season.
“Before those two yesterday we were on quite a ride,” Burgoon said. “So it was very skeptical and it was a matter of this point forward, that every game now is the only one. We don’t want to get caught up in that .500 pack. You just don’t want to be in there.”