Connect with us


Michigan baseball begins conference play with series sweep

This weekend, Michigan baseball kicked off its conference schedule with a three-game series sweep over the Penn State Nittany Lions.



Michigan baseball

ANN ARBOR, MI – With conference play returning to action, Big10 baseball teams with lackluster nonconference records get a chance to “reset” their season’s trajectory. Michigan baseball started the season just 9-11 through nonconference play. However, this weekend the Wolverines started their conference schedule with a three-game series sweep over the Penn State Nittany Lions. Michigan baseball now boasts an overall record of 12-11 and an undefeated conference record of 3-0.

The Wolverines outscored the Nittany Lions 28-8 in the three games combined. Penn State entered the weekend with a 12-5 overall record and a 1-4 record against ranked opponents. The Nittany Lions end the weekend last in the Big10 standings after their 0-3 conference start.

While still very early in the season, the Wolverines sit tied for first in the Big10 standings. Here are a few takeaways from the Wolverines series sweep.

Michigan Bats Get Hot

After a slow start to the year offensively, the Michigan lineup is starting to come alive again. The Wolverines amassed 33 hits and drove in 28 runs in their best offensive production of the season.

Entering the weekend series against the Nittany Lions, Michigan baseball averaged just 4.4 runs per game. Multiple returning veterans in the Wolverine lineup have been unable to match their productivity from last year. With Michigan bats slumping, they relied heavily on dominant pitching to keep games close.

This weekend however, the Wolverines averaged 9.3 runs per game, scoring 13 runs on Friday, 12 runs on Saturday, and 3 runs on Sunday.

Senior pitcher Noah Rennard talked about how conference play can be a “reset” for certain players. “I think it offered a lot of guys kind of a fresh start,” said Rennard, adding “Our season was what it was in the preseason. We had some good games, we had some bad games. I think once Big10 play rolls around, a lot of guys mentally can have that reset.”

Rennard Makes First Start

Noah Rennard has been a dominant bullpen arm for the Wolverines who lack pitching depth in the late innings. So far this season, Rennard holds an earned run average of 2.63 and an opposing batting average of .188. Before this weekend, all of Rennard’s innings pitched had come from late relief appearances.

However, this Sunday, Rennard took the mound for his first start of the 2023 season and pitched 5.2 innings while giving up only one earned run. Michigan baseball has struggled to find the “third man” in their rotation, with Connor O’Halloran and Chase Allen being their only consistent starters so far.

Rennard may be the final piece to Michigan’s rotation as conference play continues. Michigan baseball head coach Tracy Smith said, “We’re trying to find that six to eight guys that are going to be the core nucleus of the leverage innings”. He added, “We’re getting closer on that… Every one of those [bullpen] guys can step up and continue to develop.”

Every Game Counts

“They all matter”, said coach Smith when asked about the impact of a series sweep. “Every game matters whether it’s the first weekend or the last weekend”.

Michigan baseball will play 24 conference games this season before Big10 tournament seeding is established. Last season, Michigan made the tournament as the fifth seed after going 12-12 in conference play. With a 3-0 conference start, the Wolverines will look to build on their performance from last season and finish even higher in the standings.

Coach Smith also emphasized how the Wolverines will remain competitive in the rest of their nonconference games throughout the season. “I hate the mentality of throwing away games in the middle of the week so that we win on the weekend”, said coach Smith. “Our mentality is that we want to win every single game one at a time.”

The Wolverines return to action in Ann Arbor this Tuesday against the Central Michigan Chippewas at 4 PM ET.

Thank you for reading Blue by Ninety. For more Michigan Athletics content from Blue by Ninety, follow us on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. You can also subscribe to our YouTube Channel. For feedback, questions, concerns, or to apply for a writing position, please email our Managing Editor at Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and all other streaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!