Michigan baseball drops Big Ten tournament opener to Iowa

After starting the Big Ten tournament with two big wins, the Michigan baseball team finally lost some steam.

As the tournament reached its deepest stages, the Wolverines struggled to find pitching success. So when the bats also started spitting for the first time, a victory proved out of reach.

Michigan (30-26 overall, 12-13 Big Ten) was beaten, 7-3, by Iowa (36-18, 18-7) on Saturday, earning it its first loss of the tournament. The Wolverines throw fell apart late and the offense couldn’t make up the difference.

This end has not always been so certain. Both offenses seemed to be walking in mud for the first five innings, and despite being gifted bases early on, they failed to convert.

“It wasn’t our night offensively,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “We took the batter’s lead six of nine times, but couldn’t take it.”

Cashing difficulties appeared from the start of the match. In the first inning, the Wolverines charged the bases with three hits, but they were put away with no damage inflicted. Both starting pitchers signed on, and the innings flew by at a speed unheard of in Michigan’s powerful offensive performances so far in Omaha.

The stalemate finally broke in the fifth inning, when the Hawkeyes managed to squeeze through. However, the very next batter that right-hander Chase Allen managed to put away ended the inning – leaving three base runners stranded in his wake.

But after that breakthrough, Iowa finally found a rhythm. When Allen was taken out of the game for the sixth inning, the Hawkeyes had some men and got them through home plate as well. They scored two more runs and nearly a third when junior catcher Jimmy Obertop made a tight play at home plate.

Michigan, too, began to find life, tackling two runs on a hit single from redshirt junior Jordan Rogers. But junior second baseman Ted Burton was caught trying to stretch for a third run, ending the inning without tying.

However, Wolverines’ pitching began to stall, and in the seventh inning, Iowa opened play. Four more runs went home, putting Michigan in an important five-run hole.

And for once. Wolverine’s hitters couldn’t keep up with the opposition. Despite a first home run and a few base runners in the eighth inning, Iowa managed to fight their way into a lead.

“We had runners in scoring position,” Bakich said. “We just didn’t have the hits.”

Although freshman right-hander Avery Goldensoph quieted the Hawkeye bats in the eighth and ninth innings, it was already too late. Iowa’s four-point lead proved to be more than the Wolverine Bats could overcome, even after the impressive performances they had put up over the first two days.

Michigan left the game clutching its first loss of the tournament, and now awaits redemption on Sunday in a rematch against Iowa.