Malmanger, Collins have two-hit days, Oakland upsets Michigan in Ann Arbor


Photo courtesy of Jose Juarez, OU Athletics

The Oakland baseball team started their season with an impressive opening series victory against CSU-Bakersfield.

The Oakland baseball team upset the University of Michigan baseball team, 4-1 at Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, March 8. It was the Golden Grizzlies’ third win of the season — in 11 games — with just five games to play before the Horizon League competition begins.

It’s been a rough start to the 2023 season for Oakland. Head coach Jordon Banfield and the Golden Grizzlies are coming off the program’s first winning season since at least the turn of the millennium, but the momentum has halted.

Oakland opened the 2023 season by getting swept by Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. The Golden Grizzlies then dropped three of four to the University of Kansas, including a brutal 26-3 defeat in the third game of the series.

Wichita State then took two of three games from Oakland. In the series against the Shockers, the Golden Grizzlies gave up 40 runs over the span of the three games.

Then came Wednesday’s win over Michigan, where Oakland’s pitching and defense had arguably their best games of the season.

Redshirt senior pitcher Bryce Kotinzer pitched five innings of shutout baseball, and his stellar performance earned a win — his first of the season.

Konitzer gave up two hits and one walk in his five innings of work. He walked just one batter, and struck out six as he had his way with the Wolverines’ lineup.

Oakland’s bats came alive in the second and third innings. Redshirt sophomore Drew Collins’ triple brought home redshirt senior Luke Malmanger in the second inning.

Collins then scored on an error by Michigan second baseman Ted Burton, and Oakland had an early 2-0 lead over Michigan.

In the third inning, graduate student Gabe Lux was hit by a pitch. Senior Ian Cleary then doubled, bringing Lux around to score Oakland’s third run of the game.

The three-run cushion was plenty for Oakland’s pitchers, who continued to mow down a struggling U-M batting lineup.

Graduate student Christian Stelling pitched a hitless two innings after Konitzer’s day was done. Senior Noah Stants followed it up with a hitless eighth inning, and Oakland had Michigan on the ropes.

Collins singled in the top of the ninth inning, bringing home redshirt senior Thomas Green. It was an insurance run for the Golden Grizzlies, and the Wolverines couldn’t put together a late, ninth-inning rally.

Michigan left fielder Tito Flores launched a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to spoil Oakland’s shutout, but it was too little, too late. The Golden Grizzlies walked out of Ann Arbor with a 4-1 upset of the Wolverines.

Banfield’s team is set to begin conference play this week, as it will travel to Youngstown, Ohio to take on the Youngstown State Penguins on Friday, March 17.

Following the series with the Penguins, Oakland will make a pit stop in Oxford, Ohio to take on Miami in a one-game series, before it heads to Dayton, Ohio to continue Horizon League play against the Wright State Raiders.