In a matchup with the Michigan State Spartans on Tuesday, the Michigan Wolverines baseball team came out with a victory, 11-8, and completed the season sweep of MSU. That makes 16 wins for the Wolverines in the last 18 matchups between the Spartans.
Michigan State started about as hot as a team can. The Spartans’ first four runners scored before they recorded an out. A Mitch Jebb leadoff triple was scored by a Trent Farquhar single through the right side. This was followed by a hit-by-pitch by Jack Frank. A second triple in the inning, this one off the bat of Casey Mayes, scored Frank and Farquhar. To make matters worse, Mayes came around to score on a throwing error from Riley Bertram.
Four runs in the top of the first? No problem for the Wolverines. They roared back quickly and stole every ounce of momentum the Spartans gathered. After a Clark Elliot groundout to lead off the inning, 11 of the next 12 Wolverine batters reached base. This included four singles, three doubles, three walks and a hit-by-pitch. At the end of this offensive rampage, the score was 9-4.
MSU brought it back to one run, but never tied or re-gained the lead.
Michigan had a bullpen day on the mound. This included John Torrollea’s first appearance off an injury. The RHP transfer from Brown University flamethrower struck out two of his three outs. He will be a huge addition to the pitching staff moving forward.
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights travel to Ann Arbor to conclude the regular season. Rutgers comes into the series having already surpassed the 40-game threshold. They stand only below Maryland in the Big Ten standings with identical conference records, but a series loss to Maryland gives the Terrapins the tiebreak for the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
Rutgers is led offensively by catcher Nick Cimillo. He holds a .406 average with 15 doubles, 15 home runs and 44 RBI. He has at least one hit in five straight games and in eight of Rutgers’ last 10 games. He is as dangerous a bat as they come in the Big Ten.
The Scarlet Knights also have offensive prowess from infielder Danny DiGeorgio (.382/seven homers/55 RBI/17 stolen bases) and outfielder Ryan Lasko (.360 BA/15 homers, 49 RBI, 10 stolen bases)
The starting pitching may be among the weaker spots on the team, and that is really saying something considering their top two pitchers still hold stellar ERAs and win-loss records. RHP Nathan Florence (6-2, 3.23 ERA) is averaging seven strikeouts per game in his last five starts and has been a dominate weapon. Fellow RHP Jared Kollar (8-2, 3.65 ERA) has been a bit more shaky as of late, walking 2.4 batters per start in his last five, but also giving up just 2.8 runs in those games.
Meanwhile, bullpen ace LHP Dale Stanavich (1.37 ERA/.156 BAA/10 saves) is pretty much a machine on the mound. He’s given up just two runs on five hits and has struck out seven in his last five appearances for Rutgers. The Wolverines will want to avoid him at all costs this weekend if they want to get wins.
Michigan is a bubble team for the Big Ten Tournament entering the weekend, so this is a crucial three-game series for the Wolverines. First pitch of tonight’s game is slated for 8 p.m. You can watch all three games on Big Ten Network.