No. 21 Michigan Takes First in Series Against NIU
A seven-run third inning featuring a grand slam from junior Drew Lugbauer pushed the No. 21-ranked University of Michigan baseball team to a 7-4 win over the Northern Illinois Huskies on Thursday (March 16) to begin the four-game series at the Wilpon Complex, home of Ray Fisher Stadium.
The Wolverines are now on a six-game win streak and have won 11 of their last 12 games.
After taking their home field for the first time this season, the Wolverines surrendered two runs in the top of the first inning as Northern Illinois took a 2-0 lead.
Michigan came alive in the bottom of the third inning, however, as the Wolverines sent 10 players to the plate. Sophomore Jonathan Engelmann got the inning started with a one-out single to right-centerfield, recording the Wolverines' first hit of the contest. Back-to-back walks to sophomore Ako Thomas and senior Johnny Slater then loaded the bases to give Michigan its first runners in scoring position. Junior Jake Bivens knocked in the first run of the day by legging out an infield single, and another run scored as Northern Illinois committed an error, tying the game. With runners on the corners, a walk to sophomore Miles Lewis loaded the bases once again, but Lugbauer cleared them quickly one out later with a two-out grand slam. Senior Michael Brdar then hit a solo homer over the brick monster in left field, giving the Wolverines the first back-to-back home run performance since March 25, 2012, against IPFW.
Leading 7-2, Michigan held the Huskies scoreless through the next two innings, but NIU scored a run in both the sixth and eighth innings to come within three.
Overall, the Wolverines recorded seven hits on the day, including four for extra bases. In addition to two home runs, Michigan had two doubles off the bats of Brdar and sophomore Jimmy Kerr.
Lugbauer also recorded a season-high four RBI on the afternoon, while Thomas extended his reached-base streak to 16 straight games.
Backed by Michigan's offensive showing, junior Oliver Jaskie earned the win for the Wolverines on the afternoon to improve to 3-0 on the season. The lefty tossed 5.2 innings and recorded five strikeouts.
In the top of the sixth, junior righty Jayce Vancena took the mound for the Maize and Blue in relief. He threw 2.1 innings and allowed just two hits, before senior Jackson Lamb came in to close out the top of the ninth en route to his fourth save of the season.
The Wolverines will return to action on Friday (March 17) in their second game of the series with Northern Illinois. First pitch against the visiting Huskies is set for 4 p.m. at the Wilpon Complex, home of Ray Fisher Stadium.
UPDATE: The No. 21-ranked University of Michigan baseball team's home game against Northern Illinois Friday, March 17 has been postponed due to forecasted inclement weather. The game has been rescheduled as part of a noon doubleheader Sunday (March 19) at the Wilpon Complex, home of Ray Fisher Stadium.
The teams are also scheduled to play a single game Saturday (March 18) at noon. Michigan and NIU opened the series on Thursday (March 16), with Michigan taking the game by a 7-4 score.
Tickets for Friday's game will be honored on the makeup date (Sunday) and are good for both games that day.