Michigan kicked off its season last weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona and started things off with dramatic 4-3 victory against Vanderbilt on Friday night after a clutch two-run homer by Matthew Schmidt to knock off the Commodores. On Saturday, the team picked up right where they left off, winning 8-5 against Cal Poly, fueled by a four-hit game from shortstop Jack Blomgren and 3 RBI’s from third baseman Ted Burton. Big Ten Pitcher of the Week Steve Hajjar got the start for the night cap and was dominant, spinning six scoreless innings against a potent lineup. Michigan closed out the weekend with Connecticut on Sunday, but the Huskies out-dueled them, spoiling their near-perfect weekend in a 7-1 victory.
The matchup with the Huskies was just the first of what will be four consecutive games against them in the span of a week. The Wolverines will be looking to take two or even all three of the games this weekend in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
The anticipated starting pitchers for the Wolverines this weekend are Jeff Criswell, Steve Hajjar, and Blake Beers. Hajjar and Beers recorded wins last Saturday and while Criswell was not credited with a victory, he was very good against Vanderbilt in a game the Wolverines went on to win.
Joe Simeone got the start for the Huskies last Friday against Cal Poly, followed by Colby Dunlop on Saturday against Vanderbilt, and Nick Krauth on Sunday against Michigan. It’s possible these are the three starters this weekend against the Wolverines.
What To Watch:
Setting the table: Juniors Jordan Nwogu and Jack Blomgren provide the 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup for Erik Bakich’s team. The duo combined for 14 hits last weekend in just four games. With above average speed, both players also have the ability to cause havoc on the base paths. The tone the pair sets at the top of the lineup is important in order for the Wolverines offense to produce runs.
Getting good innings from starters: Last weekend, the Wolverines starting pitching was tremendous. In 23.2 innings, they only gave up a total of five runs. Maybe the most impressive thing is that they did that while facing exceptional offenses in Vanderbilt and Arizona State. Things unraveled slightly in the UConn game last weekend, but if the Wolverines can get more quality starts from their staff, they’ll be in a good spot to succeed this weekend.
Big games from rotation players: Last weekend, left fielder Danny Zimmerman did not start in the Vanderbilt or Cal Poly game; however, when he drew the start against Arizona State Saturday night, he delivered. The redshirt sophomore got the scoring started with a solo shot in the third to put Michigan up 1-0. Zimmerman is probably slated to start one of the games this weekend and then make an appearance as a pinch hitter possibly in another. If he continues his hot hitting, it will be hard for Coach Bakich to keep him out of the lineup.
The three-game weekend series against UConn starts Friday afternoon with the first pitch set for 2 p.m. ET. in Port St. Lucie, Florida. On Saturday, the two teams will meet again to play at 2 p.m. ET. The weekend series will wrap up on Sunday with an 11 a.m. ET start time. The games will not be televised or streamed, but we will keep you up to date here at Maize n Brew.