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Michigan baseball drops two of three during LeClair Classic

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The Wolverines’ late fight comes up short in two of three last weekend.

NCAA Baseball: College World Series Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines’ baseball team traveled to Greenville, North Carolina this past weekend to play the No. 21 ranked Maryland Terrapins, the East Carolina Pirates and the Indiana State Sycamores in the Keith LeClair Classic at ECU’s Clark-LeClair Stadium.

Michigan came into the weekend with a 6-3 record, but left it with a 7-5 record after winning Game 1 and dropping Games 2 and 3 by a combined three runs. Going 1-2 during a weekend series is never a great look, but the Wolverines did play well enough to win all three games; they just came up short in the final two games.

Let’s recap the weekend and see how exactly everything played out.

Michigan vs. #21 Maryland

Quick note: This did not count as a Big Ten game.

Michigan was able to hand Maryland its first loss of the 2022 season behind the stellar start from pitcher Cameron Weston. Weston went five innings, striking out nine and giving up only one earned run. The Wolverine bullpen was able to slam the door. Between senior Cleveland Walker, junior Noah Rennard and senior Willie Weiss, the bullpen went the remaining four innings surrendering no runs on three hits and five strikeouts.

In those last four innings, the Wolverine bats came to life. In the 6th inning, the Wolverines cut their four-run deficit in half with the help of a Tito Flores double and a fielder’s choice on a ground ball to shortstop.

The 7th inning saw senior Riley Bertram hit his first career home run, scoring Jack Van Remortel to knot the game at four. In the 8th inning, Joey Velazquez blasted his first career home run in his first at bat of the season, driving in three runs to take the lead. Those three runs were the difference for the Wolverines, taking Game 1 of the weekend by a score of 7-4.

Michigan vs. East Carolina

In a high scoring affair, this game featured nine different pitchers. Michigan’s starter, Connor O’Halloran, went six innings and gave up eight hits and five runs (only three of which were earned).

Both offenses exploded in this one. Each of Michigan’s first five hitters had a multi-hit game, with DH Matt Frey leading the charge, going 3-for-5. The Wolverines had five extra base hits, coming from Tito Flores (double, homerun), Clark Elliot (double), Riley Bertram (double) and Ted Burton (homerun). East Carolina’s offense had 13 hits, including three home runs, and also had five starters have multi-hit games.

After the 8th inning, the Pirates had a commanding 10-3 lead. The Wolverines showed their grit by scoring five runs in the top of the 9th, including a grand slam. But the comeback effort came up just short and the Pirates took Game 2, 10-8.

Michigan vs. Indiana State

The Wolverines continued the weekend’s trend of falling to an early deficit against the Sycamores, who gained an early lead with four runs in the top of the 2nd.

Michigan’s starting pitcher, Jacob Denner, went 6.2 innings and gave up 11 hits and six earned runs on two walks and seven strikeouts. He was relieved by Noah Rennard and Willie Weiss, who threw the remaining two innings without surrendering a run.

Matt Frey remained hot with another three-hit game, including a home run in the 3rd inning to cut the deficit. Ted Burton and Jimmy Obertop had multi-hit games as well, with Burton going 2-for-5 and Obertop going 2-for-4 with a walk.

The Wolverines were able to chip away as the game went on, but Indiana State’s consistent offensive approach was able to respond to each shot the Wolverines gave them. The late fight was not enough for the Wolverines, despite three late runs in the bottom of the 8th. Indiana State took a close one, 6-5.

The Wolverines are back in action starting Friday at Louisville for a three-game set. Then next Tuesday they will travel to Nashville to take on SEC powerhouse Vanderbilt.