The weather managed to hold out for Northwestern's Big Ten home opener, but the Wildcats' pitching staff was unable to hold off the Wolverines. Northwestern (7-19, 1-3 B1G) fell to Michigan (18-5, 1-0) by a score of 10-4 in the first game of a doubleheader Friday at Rocky and Bernice Miller Park.
The starters for the game were Oliver Jaskie for Michigan and Reed Mason for Northwestern. Mason's final line was 3 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 H and 3 BB, while Jaskie had a much better outing (6.1 IP, 4 R, 4 H, 5 SO, 3 BB). For Northwestern, Matt Hopfner went 1-for-3 with a solo home run as did Grant Peikert with a double and an RBI. Michigan's offense fared much better as Jake Bivens notched 3 hits and scored 3 runs while Harrison Wenson was 1-for-4 with 3 RBIs.
Northwestern got on the board early in the first inning on Hopfner's solo shot. The outfielder took a pitch in the middle of the plate and drove it over the left-center field wall to put the Wildcats up 1-0. The lead wouldn't last long however as Michigan went ahead in the top of the third inning on a 2-run double from Wenson.
After Wenson's base knock, Michigan's Carmen Benedetti fell down in between second and third base but was awarded home on fielder's interference, scoring the second run. Spencer Allen briefly came out to argue the call, but the umpires held firm and the Wolverines led 2-1. A sac fly from Michael Brdar extended the Michigan lead to 3-1 heading into the bottom of the frame.
The Wildcats chipped into the lead in the 3rd scoring on an RBI groundout from Zach Jones following a double from Grant Peikert, but the wheels fell off in the fourth. Northwestern's Reed Mason was knocked out of the game with no outs after a RBI double from Benedetti and replaced by Pete Hofman, who was unable to limit the damage. His first pitch was wild pitch and plated Benedetti and his second led to an RBI groundout for Harrison Wenson. After walking and hitting the next two batters, Hofman escaped with a 6-4-3 double play. However, the damage was done as Michigan led 6-2.
The rest of the game was not much better for the Wildcats. After going down 1-2-3 in the fourth, Northwestern gave up two more runs in the fifth as Hofman was knocked out of the game. The Wolverines would hold their 8-2 advantage for a few more innings before adding another run on a sac fly in the 7th. Northwestern added a couple of runs in the bottom of the inning on a Willie Bourbon double and a Peikert RBI groundout to cut the deficit to 9-4. Michigan added one more run in the top of the 9th to hit double digits and went on to win 10-4.
This loss drops Northwestern to 2-8 in its last 10 games and 1-3 in the Big Ten. The Wildcats will take on the Wolverines again in the second game of Friday's doubleheader and then again on Sunday.