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Michigan baseball takes weekend series over Bradley

The Wolverines improved to 9-10 on the season, winning two of their three games against Bradley over the weekend.

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Michigan baseball Connor O'Halloran
@Adiel_Photography (Instagram)

ANN ARBOR, MI — Despite the cold weather and a few late schedule changes, the Wolverines hosted the Bradley Braves in a three game series this past weekend. Spurred by a series of incredible performances by Connor O’Halloran and other Wolverine standouts, the Michigan baseball team won two of the three games and improved to 9-10 on the season. Following a six-game losing skid, Michigan baseball has now won five of their last seven games.

Here are three of our takeaways from the Wolverines’ weekend series against Bradley.

Michigan baseball gets dominant start from Connor O’Halloran

While Michigan pitching hasn’t been amazing this year, starting pitcher Connor O’Halloran is certainly doing his job. Boasting an earned run average of 1.62, the junior southpaw has dominated the mound in all five of his starts this season. In his last 21 innings, O’Halloran has struckout 34 batters.

On Friday, O’Halloran pitched six innings without allowing an earned run. He struck out 12 batters in the process. The choice to remove Connor O’Halloran in the seventh had little to do with his performance, but rather his pitch count which reached 114 before he was removed.

Each of O’Halloran’s five starts have been “quality starts,” meaning he has pitched six or more innings with three or less earned runs in each. Having a reliable arm that consistently pitches into later innings is crucial for a Michigan team with limited talent in the bullpen.

Jefferis shines on offense

Graduate transfer Cody Jefferis started the series out right with a first pitch base hit up the middle. The early count aggression didn’t let up, and Jefferis stayed hot throughout the weekend, skyrocketing his on base percentage more than 50 points. Jefferis went from a .281 OBP entering the weekend to a .337 OBP by the end.

Jefferis reached base on 61.5 percent of his plate appearances against Bradley. These came from five hits, two walks, and a hit by pitch.

Once on base, Jefferis continued to contribute. Jefferis flashed his speed going two for two on stolen bases over the weekend. On top of batting in two runners, Jefferis himself scored four times in the series. When asked about his first pitch aggression, Michigan baseball star Cody Jefferis said “If you see something in the zone, you’re going to be swinging at it. It doesn’t matter if you’re the leadoff guy or whatnot. You’re up there to hit, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Jefferis has been starting at shortstop and batting in the leadoff spot all season, and will look to maintain his hot streak on offense as conference play approaches.

Kim settling in to starting role

Freshman outfielder Jonathan Kim began the season on the bench but has seen more playtime in the past 10 days, starting five of the past seven Michigan baseball games. While the sample size may be limited, Kim has been tearing it up at the plate. On Friday, Kim went 4-4 with a double, RBI, and Run to his name.

While he was relatively quiet on offense for the rest of the series, Kim still finished the weekend with a .500 batting average, bringing his season BA up to .435 from 23 at bats. Kim has looked comfortable in the outfield and will likely be a starter or keep a platoon role for the foreseeable future.

Head coach Tracy Smith talked about Kim’s development following a “natural progression” for freshmen, noting how not every freshman is ready to start on day one. “When guys can sit back and watch the games, I think it slows it down for them.” He added, “I’m happy for him because we probably put him in a few games ago because somebody else wasn’t doing what they were supposed to… it’s nice to see him take advantage of it and say, ‘you know what? I’m gonna go take this job.’”

Michigan baseball will return to action this Tuesday at home against the Akron Zips 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 Cj@BluebyNinety.com. Also, be sure to check out our shop and our podcast, which is available on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and all other steaming platforms. It is because of your support that we have become one of the fastest and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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Michigan baseball: Reviewing the 2023 season

Michigan baseball recently wrapped up the 2023 season with a loss to Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament. Michigan baseball fell short but shows lots of promise for future years.

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@Adiel_Photography (Instagram)

Earlier this week, Michigan baseball lost their second Big Ten tournament game, eliminating them from the tournament and ending their season. Despite falling short in the Big Ten tournament, Michigan baseball fans have a lot to be excited about.

In just his first year with the Wolverines, head coach Tracy Smith finished sixth in the Big Ten standings and made it to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament. Here’s a year in review of Michigan baseball’s 2023 season.

Preseason Expectations

Returning to the Michigan lineup were starters Tito Flores, Ted Burton, and Jimmy Obertop. After originally entering the transfer portal, Obertop ultimately decided to come back for one more year. Unfortunately, Obertop suffered a preseason injury which would force him to miss over 30 games to start the season.

With just Flores and Burton returning to the lineup, seven new starting spots were open for new talent to compete for. To begin the season, transfer targets Cody Jefferis and Gabe Sotres filled the gap at shortstop and catcher respectively. Freshman two-way player Mitch Voit also made the opening-day lineup starting at third base. Jack Van Remortel took over the everyday first base role, leaving two spots in the outfield for the rest of the team to compete for.

To start the season, senior Joey Velazquez and freshman Greg Pace Jr. filled the starting spots in the outfield.

Michigan retained great arm talent from 2022 with pitchers Connor O’Halloran, Noah Rennard, and Chase Allen all returning. The bullpen may have lacked depth but it was anchored by freshman closer and third baseman Mitch Voit.

With such high roster turnover and an all-new coaching regime, Michigan wasn’t expected to make a bang in the Big Ten this year. Still, the Wolverines were optimistic starting the season, with senior second baseman Ted Burton saying, “We have a lot of people to prove wrong…heading into the season, that’s our mindset.”

Midseason changes and conference play

Midway through the season, new talents started emerging for the Wolverines. With Greg Pace struggling to meet preseason expectations, freshman outfielder Jonathan Kim heated up. Kim raised his batting average above .400 and soon after took over as the starting center fielder. He continued to climb the order until he was eventually batting third.

Senior outfielder Jake Marti began heating up as well, and slowly moved into a platoon role in the outfield with Joey Velazquez and Tito Flores entering midseason slumps.

With conference play beginning, Coach Smith had an important decision regarding starting pitchers. The conference schedule would require three starting pitchers every weekend, and so far only two pitchers, Connor O’Halloran and Chase Allen, had emerged as dominant starters. Smith decided to move late reliever Noah Rennard into a starting role because of his consistency so far through the season.

The rotation was set, and  O’Halloran, Allen, and Rennard typically started each conference weekend, though Smith made sure to note that he doesn’t like to assign “roles” and Rennard could still see late relief action if needed.

Michigan started conference play with a series sweep and started to find a rhythm with their young team.

Postseason and future for Michigan baseball

Michigan would finish conference play sixth out of thirteen in the Big Ten. This qualified them for the Big Ten tournament in Omaha Nebraska. As the sixth seed, Michigan baseball wasn’t expected to do a bunch of damage in Omaha. After losing their first game 13-3 against Iowa, Michigan was one loss away from elimination.

The Wolverines didn’t go down without a fight. Michigan eliminated both No. 7 seed Illinois and No. 2 seed Indiana. However, the Wolverines were pitted against Iowa again in the semifinals and couldn’t get the bats going, losing 0-5 to end their season.

While they ultimately fell short of winning another Big Ten championship, there is a lot of positive to take away from Coach Smith’s inaugural season. Several young players, such as Jonathan Kim, and Mitch Voit, have shown they can be everyday key contributors to the Michigan lineup.

In addition, Michigan baseball has more talent that has yet to reach its potential. Although he slumped heavily in his freshman year, Greg Pace Jr. could still be a breakout player for next year’s team. Freshman pitcher Kurt Barr also showed his potential by posting a 4.18 earned run average.

Coach Smith has also developed a deep recruiting class which will add more talent to the roster for next season. While Michigan may have fallen short this year, the team is in a great position for future seasons and will only get better with its young talent.



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 Cj@BluebyNinety.com. 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-growing and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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Michigan baseball takes rivalry series over Michigan State

Michigan baseball took two of three games against the in-state rival Michigan State Spartans, placing the Wolverines third in the Big Ten standings.

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Michigan baseball
@Adiel_Photography (Instagram)

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Wolverines continue to climb the Big Ten standings. This weekend, Michigan baseball took two of three games against the in-state rival Michigan State Spartans.

The Wolverines faced Michigan State earlier in the season at the MLB Desert Invitational, falling to the Spartans 15-8. However, this weekend the Wolverines were boosted by two strong pitching performances and good hitting all around.

Michigan baseball now ranks third in the Big Ten standings. Here are some takeaways from the Wolverines’ weekend homestand.

Noah Rennard’s starting success continues

Entering the 2023 season, Michigan baseball did not have a solidified number three starter for their rotation. After being used primarily as a reliever in non-conference play, Noah Rennard filled the role as the third starter and has been delivering ever since.

Rennard got the start this Friday for the first of three games against the Spartans. Michigan baseball head Coach Tracy Smith explained that he wanted to give their starting ace Connor O’Halloran an extra day off.

Rennard took advantage of this opportunity, pitching 5.2 innings and only allowing three earned runs. After this weekend, Rennard holds a 4.89 earned run average with 46 innings pitched.

Coach Smith explained how the roster doesn’t follow a typical “one two three” rotation because they lack bullpen depth. Smith said, “We know who we’re starting on Friday, that’s all we know. If we have to use Noah [Rennard] to win the game on Friday, we’re going to.” He added, “We just don’t have the luxury this year of putting him in a role where every time he shows up to the yard, we know what he’s going to be”.

Rennard will continue to make starts this season and see time as a late reliever in close games. “The good part about that is these guys are great,” said Coach Smith, adding “They’re like ‘Hey man, just tell me what I need to do.’ … They’ve been awesome with that and that’s how we’re going to have to do it.”

Connor O’Halloran’s first complete game

Connor O’Halloran has been a dominant starting ace for Michigan baseball all season. All but one of his ten starts have been “Quality Starts” with more than six innings pitched and less than three runs allowed.

O’Halloran has been known to pitch deep into games, often throwing over 100 pitches per start. Despite all of his dominant performances, this Saturday marked the first time O’Halloran has recorded a complete game in his career.

O’Halloran limited the Spartans to only three earned runs and struck out five en route to his complete game. The Wolverines bats supported O’Halloran’s start, putting up eight runs in their victory.

Earlier this season, O’Halloran pitched nine full innings against Nebraska. However, the game went into extra innings and O’Halloran was pulled, disqualifying him from a “perfect game” despite his nine innings pitched. O’Halloran is slated to start again this Friday against Oklahoma State.

Michigan baseball enters midweek bye

With finals taking place this week at the University of Michigan, the Wolverines get a timely bye to study for their last exams. While a typical week has a non-conference opponent on Tuesday, Michigan baseball won’t play again until Friday when they begin their weekend series against Oklahoma State.

Coach Smith, who is in his first year as Michigan’s head coach, explained his mindset about this week’s bye. “It’s finals week, which I’m still learning here at the University of Michigan is quite an extensive thing… What I typically do is give them a couple of days off coming off the weekend, because we want to have our minds right… So we’ll take a couple of days off and get back to work on Wednesday as we prepare for Oklahoma State.”

The upcoming series against Oklahoma State will be held at home for the Wolverines. First pitch is scheduled for this Friday 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 Cj@BluebyNinety.com. 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-growing and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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Michigan Baseball: Jimmy Obertop returns from injury

Jimmy Obertop returned to the Michigan baseball lineup after missing the first 36 games of the season due to injury.

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Michigan baseball
@Adiel_Photography (Instagram)

ANN ARBOR, MI — After missing 36 games with an arm injury, a veteran slugger has finally returned to the Michigan baseball lineup. Senior catcher Jimmy Obertop played his first game of the 2023 season this Friday.

Positive Clubhouse Presence

Last year, Obertop had his most productive season at the plate. Starting most of the season at catcher, Obertop held a .387 on-base percentage and a .511 slugging percentage. Obertop finished the season with 15 home runs and 54 runs batted in.

Over the off-season, Obertop entered the transfer portal but decided to stay with Michigan baseball. After suffering a pre-season arm injury, Obertop was forced to sit out entering the 2023 season.

While recovering, Obertop remained a positive clubhouse presence by coaching first base. This veteran presence was important for a Michigan baseball team packed with young talent.

“We want him to be a part of it,” said head coach Tracy Smith when asked about Obertop coaching first. Smith emphasized his clubhouse role, saying “He’s always been there. Always been around contributing to wins, every single game this season. He just hadn’t been on the field doing it.”

Obertop’s Return

This Friday, Jimmy Obertop returned to the Michigan baseball lineup in the first of three home games against the rival Michigan State Spartans. After striking out in his first at-bat, Obertop bounced back and collected his first hit of the season in the fourth inning. He finished the day one for three with a walk and a single.

“Coaching first is fun, but I’d rather play all day,” said Obertop after his start. Obertop mentioned how coaching first made him less nervous for his first start back. “I was pretty even-keeled. I’ve been watching from first and it’s slowed the game down a lot, so thanks to skip for letting me do that.”

Obertop will play again on Saturday as the Wolverines finish their series against the Spartans. Michigan baseball will play Saturday at 2 PM ET and Sunday at 1 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 Cj@BluebyNinety.com. 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-growing and most influential Michigan media outlets there is!

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