The Michigan Wolverines continued their winning ways to start the 2021 season with a four-game sweep over the Purdue Boilermakers in Greenville, South Carolina. The latest batch of victories moves them to 7-1 on the year, which sees them playing a Big Ten Conference-only schedule.
Here’s what went down in each game.
Left-handed redshirt sophomore Steve Hajjar got the start for the Wolverines in the first game of the series and did what the Friday pitcher is expected to do. Hajjar (1-0, 2.13 ERA) shut down the Boilermakers in six innings of work, allowing one earned run on four hits. He had five strikeouts, one walk and hit two Purdue batters. The bullpen trio of Will Proctor, Isaiah Page and Logan Wood kept Purdue off the board in the final three innings of play, allowing only four baserunners.
Michigan’s scoring output saw them put up four runs through the first five innings before a four-run explosion in the sixth. They would cap it off with one more run in the eighth inning on a wild pitch.
Fifth-year catcher Griffin Mazur hit his third home run of the year and finished the day 2-for-4 at the plate with three RBI. Third basemen Christian Molfetta had a pair of RBI, while outfielders Clark Elliott and Christian Bullock each knocked in runs of their own.
The second and third games of the series were played as a Saturday doubleheader, which saw a seven-inning game take place to start the day. Michigan was able to get a strong performance out of right-handed sophomore Cameron Weston (1-1, 3.48 ERA), who gave up five hits while striking out three in six innings of work. Willie Weiss preserved the shutout in the final inning of work.
Jimmy Obertop’s RBI single in the bottom of the fourth gave the Wolverines a 1-0 lead, while Jake Marti was able to extend it to 2-0 on a sacrifice fly to left-center field in the fifth. Bullock had an RBI single in the sixth and would later steal second in a move that led to Riley Bertram scoring from third. Keaton Carattini and Angelo Smith would each allow one earned run apiece in a combined four innings of work.
Purdue’s inability to get to Michigan’s starting pitching extended into the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, as redshirt junior lefty Ben Dragani (2-0, 0.00 ERA) threw five innings of scoreless baseball. He struck out five and allowed four hits.
Michigan’s offense jumped on the Boilermakers from the start in Game 3. Obertop hit his first home run of the year on a grand slam that scored Benjamin Sems, Mazur and Tito Flores in the bottom of the first inning. A dropped fly ball led to Molfetta scoring in the bottom of the second before Obertop added his fifth RBI of the day on a single and Elliott following it up with one of his own. This would give Michigan a 7-0 lead after two innings. Molfetta added an RBI single in the fifth to stretch the lead to 8-0.
Purdue was able to get an RBI double from Jeremy Schork in the evening inning, but it was followed to a sacrifice RBI from Danny Zimmerman to get things to 9-1. Purdue’s Ben Niscle hit a home run in the ninth to give the Boilers their final run of the day.
The final score suggests another somewhat dominant Michigan performance, but it took some time to get going. Purdue scored three runs off of starter Blake Beers in the third inning thanks to a wild pitch, a passed ball and a throwing error from the Wolverines to take a 3-1 lead. Riley Bertram’s RBI double in the fourth helped Michigan trim the deficit to 3-2, but Purdue would extend its lead to 6-2 in the fifth after a three-run homer from Nisle off of sophomore pitcher Jacob Denner.
Michigan’s offensive explosion came in the bottom of the fifth inning where they were able to storm back with five runs of their own. RBI singles from Mazur, Sems, Bullock and Marti (2 RBI) set up the big inning and the Wolverines would never trail again. Flores homered to left-center field in the sixth and followed that up with a double that scored two runs in the seventh. The rest was history for the Wolverines.
Next up for Michigan is a return to the friendly confines of Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor to take on Illinois in a quick two-game series. The first pitch Friday is set for 4 p.m. ET, while the Saturday finale will begin at noon. A two-game series against the Michigan State Spartans follows on Sunday and Monday.