The Minnesota native hasn’t always been a hitting machine, however. In 2017, Busch only hit three home runs and 22 RBIs all season with a .215 batting average. He is only one home run and 12 RBIs short of matching last year’s totals as of Wednesday.
Despite a rough start to Busch's college career, head coach Mike Fox has always had confidence in Busch.
“We knew Michael was going be a really good player for us when he got in here last year,” Fox said. “Got a great temperament about him. Got a great swing. He handles lefties. A couple two-strike hits today against lefties, which is hard to do.”
The improvement that Busch has shown has obviously benefited the team. He has two three-run home runs, 10 RBIs and a .440 on-base percentage. However, his impact has been felt by teammates in ways the casual fan can’t recognize.
The threat of Busch has forced pitchers to give the batters in front of him better pitches to hit. Pitchers can’t afford to pitch around other hitters because they want as few base runners on as possible when Busch is at the plate.
“I moved all over the lineup last year, and this year I kind of fell into the two hole right now,” third baseman Kyle Datres said. “Having Busch behind me to protect me, I feel like I’m seeing some good pitches up there. I’m just getting on base and letting the guys after me take care of business.”
Busch has had a positive impact on Datres’ hitting, and the numbers back it up. With Busch behind him in the order, Datres has a five-game hitting streak, and he leads the team in hits with 10.
Datres and Busch have undoubtedly been the key pieces for the UNC (2-3) offense so far this season. They rank first and second in hits on the season, and they both bring veteran leadership to the team.
“He’s very important,” Fox said of Datres. “He’d be the guy, probably he and Michael, that I would want up there with the game on the line because of that experience and toughness.”
Both players have enjoyed an incredible amount of success for such a short amount of time, but they still are putting the team’s objectives first.
“After last year and how good we were and the frustrating ending we had," Busch said, "I just want to get back to Omaha, which we haven’t done in a few years."
“I didn’t have the season that I wanted last year,” Datres said. “And I know our team didn’t end the way we wanted to, so I think we’re all pushing. We all pushed in this off-season to get that much better for this upcoming year.”
@DTHSports | firstname.lastname@example.org