Michigan Baseball started off its 2020 campaign about as well as anyone could have asked for through the first two days of the new season in Arizona. After defeating defending national champion Vanderbilt on Friday night, the Wolverines were able to grab a pair of wins on Saturday against Cal Poly and Arizona State, respectively.
Here’s the quick recap for each game.
Game 1: 8-5 victory over Cal Poly
Win: Blake Beers (1-0): 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R (0 ER), 5 SO, 2 WP, 94 pitches
Loss: Andrew Alvarez (0-1): 4.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 7 SO, 93 pitches
Save: Cameron Weston (1): 0.1 IP
The Wolverines continued the MLB4 Collegiate Tournament in Scottsdale on Saturday afternoon as the first game on the docket and were able to score the first five runs of the game to help propel the team to victory. The top of the lineup scored five of the eight runs in this contest with junior outfielder Jordan Nwogu (3-for-4, R, BB, SO), junior shortstop Jack Blomgren (4-for-6, 2 R) and junior catcher Joe Donovan (2-for-6, 2 R, RBI) combining for nine hits in 14 at-bats against Cal Poly. Freshman third basemen Ted Burton was 2-for-5 with three RBI and a stolen base in the game.
Cal Poly had six errors in the game, which helped the Wolverines break the game open early on. Sophomore infielder Riley Bertram reached on an error in the first inning that led to Donovan and Blomgren scoring unearned runs to give Michigan a 3-0 lead. Burton knocked a pair of unearned runs in during the fifth inning on a two-RBI single. Beers, a junior, would run into some trouble in the sixth with Michigan errors costing the team a few runs as the deficit would be trimmed to 5-2 before CP added another run in the seventh to make it 5-3.
Nwogu scored on a Donovan single in the 8th inning and Bertram drew a bases-loaded walk that helped Michigan extend its lead to 7-3. Freshman Clark Elliott grounded into a double play that allowed Donovan to score to put things at 8-3. Cal Poly made things interesting in the ninth after a home run and groundout RBI against sophomore Angelo Smith, but freshman Cameron Weston was able to come in to grab the final out and preserve the victory at 8-5.
Game 2: 5-0 victory over Arizona State
Win: Steven Hajjar (1-0): 6 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 SO
Loss: Cooper Benson (0-1): 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R (2 ER), 8 SO
Save: Jack White (1)
There was not nearly as much drama in this game as the first two games, but it was a win nonetheless for the Wolverines after taking a short bus ride from Scottsdale to Tempe to take on the Sun Devils, who boast another potential top pick in Spencer Torkelson. The slugger, who had two home runs already this weekend coming into the game, was held hitless on the night and finished 0-for-3 with a walk.
Hajjar, who redshirted during his first season in 2019 due to an injury, was terrific in this game and kept the Sun Devils in check throughout the night, Michigan as a staff allowed only five hits in the game.
Michigan’s offense was led by redshirt sophomore Danny Zimmerman, who started in left field. He was 2-for-4 on the night with a home run in the third inning to put the Wolverines on the board and a double in the fifth that allowed Clark Elliott to score on a throwing error by the left fielder. Riley Bertram added an RBI single in the top of the sixth to make it 3-0 before senior Dominic Clementi had a two-RBI double in the ninth to stretch the lead to 5-0.
Sophomore lefty Jack White came in to relieve Hajjar for the final three innings and picked up the save, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out a batter while he was out there.
All in all, it is hard to scripted a better start to the season than the one that Michigan has had so far. Perhaps the most notable aspect is the fact that they held Vandy’s Austin Martin and ASU’s Spencer Torkelson, two players in contention for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft to the Detroit Tigers, to 0-for-7 on the weekend. There are still plenty of questions to answer and the vacuum of what happens in two days may not paint the whole picture, but this team looks like it is ready to pick up where it left off last season.
The Wolverines will search for one more win on Sunday in Arizona when they close out the MLB4 Collegiate Tournament with a showdown with UConn, who they also travel to Port St. Lucie, Florida to play in a three-game series next weekend. That game will be streamed via MLB.com at 12 p.m. ET.
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