The Michigan Wolverines baseball team is heating up at the right time as Big Ten play is underway.
After beginning conference play with a sweep against Penn State, the Wolverines followed it up with a big mid-week win against Central Michigan. It certainly didn’t come easy, as Michigan found themselves trailing 5-3 heading into the bottom of the 9th, but a rally sent things to extra innings, and Jack Van Remortel ended up hitting a walk-off solo shot in the 10th for the Wolverines 4th consecutive victory.
You may be thinking that a win over a MAC team isn’t anything to get excited about, but the Chippewas are legit. Head coach Jordan Bischel was a top candidate for the Michigan coaching job last spring, and he could be coaching for a lot of Big Ten teams if he wanted to. Central Michigan consistently wins the MAC and makes the NCAA tournament, and had better preseason odds to make the tournament than Michigan did this year. This was a great win.
Now, the Wolverines shift focus back to the Big Ten as a road series against Illinois looms. The two teams square off on Friday at 7:00 ET, Saturday at 2:00 ET and Sunday at 2:30 ET.
The Fighting Illini are currently 11-10 on the season and 1-2 in conference play after losing a series against Nebraska last weekend. The Fighting Illini’s best wins come against 18th-ranked Southern Miss, as Illinois took two of three against the Golden Eagles earlier this season.
Michigan and Illinois have one common opponent so far: the Bradley Braves. The Wolverines took two of three from the Braves, winning 8-4 and 6-4, and losing 5-1. Illinois only played Bradley once and won 6-4.
The Fighting Illini offense has a team average of .267 and is averaging seven runs per game. Some players to watch on that side of the ball are Ryan Moerman, who is leading the team in average and RBIs, Brody Harding and Cam McDonald.
In terms of pitching, my guess is that the Wolverines will see Jack Wenninger, Riley Gowens and Julius Sanchez take the mound as starters for this series. Wenninger has been the best starter so far for the Illini with a 3-1 record and a 4.56 ERA.
Out of the pen, TJ Constertina and Korey Bunselmeyer have been impressive for Illinois. Constertina has a 3.68 ERA with 14.2 IP, and Bunselmeyer has been rock solid with a 1.59 ERA in 11.1 IP.
Michigan got the momentum going a week ago to start conference play 3-0, and another series victory this weekend would be huge. It should be another entertaining weekend of Michigan baseball.