A Fantastic start for the Wolverines has Michigan baseball ranked No. 1 for the first time in program history.
The Michigan baseball team is ranked No.1 in Baseball America’s top 25 for the first time in the history of the poll. The Blue Crew is also the first team from the Big Ten to hold that honor. The Wolverines earned that ranking after a great showing at the MLB4 tournament. Let’s take a look at Michigan’s opening weekend.
Michigan traveled to Arizona over the weekend to compete in the MLB4 tournament along with Vanderbilt, UConn, and Cal Poly. This was the Wolverines first appearance in the tournament.
Coach Bakich also scheduled a game against Arizona State on Saturday that was not part of the tournament but to good of an opportunity to pass up. Michigan played four games over the course of three days, two of those games coming against top 10 opponents.
The opening game of the tournament for Michigan baseball was against a familiar opponent, the Vanderbilt Commodores. The stage was set for a rematch of the 2019 College World Series and the two teams didn’t disappoint.
Criswell, the new Friday starter for the Wolverines, held Vandy in check over the first six innings. He surrendered the lead in the seventh which set the stage for the Wolverines comeback. Trailing 3-2 going into their last at-bats, Michigan needed some magic and that is what they got.
Matt Schmidt came up with a runner on and hit a go-ahead two-run homer to give the Wolverines the lead.
That home run would prove to be the game-winning hit for the Wolverines as they knocked off the defending champs to open the season.
Next up for the Wolverines was the Cal Poly Mustangs. The bats came to play early for the Wolverines as they scored 3 runs before the fans could settle into their seats. The Wolverines continued to add runs and increase their lead. Beers had a good day on the mound and Michigan won the second game of the tournament 8-5.
After the game against the Mustangs, the Wolverines hopped on a bus for a short ride to go play ninth-ranked Arizona State.
The bats were quiet for both teams early. That all changed for Michigan when Danny Zimmerman left the yard in the third inning for his first home run of the season. Michigan was able to keep the powerful Arizona State lineup at bay behind Steven Hajjar. He pitched 6 scoreless in his debut.
Michigan baseball added some insurance runs but they were not needed. The Wolverines moved to 3-0 after shutting out the Sun Devils 5-0 in the Saturday nightcap.
Michigan’s final opponent of the weekend was the Connecticut Huskies. The Wolverines were led by Isaiah Paige on the mound. He allowed a run in the first but found his groove after that. He kept the Huskies off the board until he gave up a home run in the fifth inning. That signaled the end of the day for the right-hander.
The Wolverines were not able to get anything going with the bats against UConn’s starter Krauth. He kept the Michigan hitters off-balance all day only allowing 1 run in 5 plus innings of work. The Wolverines wound up losing the game 7-1.
Takeaways from the opening weekend
The Wolverines showed that they are going to be a team to be reckoned with this season. They came out and played great against some stiff competition. Here are a couple of takeaways.
Michigan was able to hold Austin Martin and Spencer Torkelson to 0-7. These are two players that are consensus top-5 picks in the 2020 MLB Draft. The Wolverines young pitching staff was able to keep two impact bats from making an impact in both games.
The Blue Crew got contributions from up and down the lineup over the four games. Nwogu and Blomgren set the table at the top and everyone followed suit. The Wolverines seemed to get the timely hit all weekend. Schmidt and Zimmerman had big home runs. Michigan lost a lot of offense from last year’s team and so far the new guys haven’t skipped a beat.
The Wolverines get a chance to avenge their loss to the Huskies next weekend. The two teams will play a three-game series in Port St. Lucie, FL the spring training home of the New York Mets.