I think it’s safe to say after this weekend, getting a top 3 seed in the BigTen Tournament is virtually out of the question. Michigan dropped two of three at home against Penn State, a team who will probably end up just over .500 in conference. Michigan continued its same struggles with relief pitching. The offense continued to leave a bunch of runners on base, 28 in 3 games. The defense let 9 unearned runs score. The catchers gave 2 free bases away due to catcher’s interference. It was just a rough weekend all around.
W – Ignas (3-0) L – Matt Miller (0-1) Sv – None
Chris Fetter got the shaft in this game. He pitched 8 innings, on 7 hits, 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and 11 strikeouts; he didn’t get the win, much less a decision. In his longest start (pitch count 136(!)) in well over a year, he posted 4 different 3 up-3 down innings highlighted by a three strikeout inning in the fourth.
He did get into trouble in the 5th inning, but had the game still in hand. He gave up two runs on a couple hits, but with two outs, Timmy Kalczynski let a ball get by him to allow the unearned run to score from third. In the 6th, again with two outs, John Lorenz made a throwing error to allow a second unearned run to score. That’d be all the runs scored against Fetter, but it was enough to tie the game.
The Michigan offense started the game fairly well. After loading the bases to lead off the first, Mike Dufek grounded out to the second basemen allowing a run to score. The second baseman flipped to second to force LaMarre out, but the short stop’s throw to first went wild, allowing Fellows to score as well. Michigan had the early 2-0 advantage.
The bottom of the order went quietly in the 2nd, but the top of the lineup went back to work in the third. After Cislo lead off with a single, he would steal second base and set up a Ryan LaMarre RBI double.
Cislo also lead off the 5th by working a 7 pitch walk. Fellows followed with a hit by the pitch. With Cislo in scoring position once again, Ryan LaMarre singled to center to drive the run in.
The score would stay tied at 4 until the top of the 10th inning. Deese singled off Miller to start the inning and would steal second. We intentionally walked Steranka to set up a potential inning ending double play. That didn’t happen. A pair of singles later saw the Nittany Lions go up 6-4, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish
- Chris Fetter – 8 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 11 K
- Kevin Cislo – 3/3 3R, BB, SB, 2B, SACB
- Ryan LaMarre – 2/3 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2B
- John Lorenz – Error lead to a run
- Nick Urban – Called out on batter’s interference
- Jake McLouth – 0/3 2 K, 3 LOB
W – Eric Katzman (5-2) L – Kelley (4-4) Sv – Dufek (3)
So at least the score worked out in our favor this time. Yet again, we saw a great pitching performance nearly squandered, this time by Eric Katzman. Katzman has hit a hot streak again, and I’m hoping it continues this way for the next few weeks. In this game he went 7.1 innings, allowing 7 hits and 5 runs (2 earned), on 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. Katzman, like Fetter in game one, also threw well over his usual number of pitches, finishing with an even 120 on the day. He, again like Fetter, also had 4 different 3 up/3 down innings. If he could pitch like this every week, he’d be up for BigTen pitcher of the year with Fetter.
The one blemish on the night came in the 7th inning when Penn State scored 5 runs. Katzman allowed a double and single to open the inning, but got two quick outs via fly ball and strikeout. Things were looking good until the next batter singled up the middle to give up two runs (only earned runs of the inning). On the play, LaMarre committed a throwing error. The error lead to a run on the very next play, a single. The next batter would ground the ball to John Lorenz; unfortunately, that didn’t end the inning either. Two runners would score on the wild throw by Lorenz, plating 3 unearned runs in the frame. Michigan was down 5-2. Ball sack.
The good news is Michigan didn’t give up. In the bottom half of the 7th, Kalczynski, who would both lead off and end the inning, started things off with a solo home run. A pitching change for Penn State turned out poorly as the next batter, Toth, would be hit by the pitch followed by a Cislo walk. Fellows then sacrificed the runners over, leaving LaMarre (who also homered the inning before) with an easy two RBIs by way of the single. Dufek then cleared the bases with a home run of his own. That’s a five run inning of Michigan’s own.
LaMarre wasn’t done. The next inning, after a lead off single by Toth, he would blast his second home run of the day. Michigan then had the 9-5 lead they wouldn’t give up.
- Eric Katzman – 7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, W
- Ryan LaMarre – 4/5 5 RBI, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B
- Alan Oaks – 3/3 R, RBI, HR, 2 2B
- Mike Dufek – 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 K, 0 R; 1/5 2 RBI, R, HR
- Ryan LaMarre – Throwing error for a run, also didn’t end the inning leading to the following:
- John Lorenz – Throwing error for 2 runs
- Tim Kalcyznski – catcher’s interference for a free base
- Coley Crank – 0/4 K as DH
W – Cianciolo (2-0) L -Travis Smith (4-3) Sv – None
I made it back home to catch the last few innings of this game. I almost wish I hadn’t. Michigan threw 6 pitchers in this game. Only two, Vangheluwe and ALAN OAKS, had what I would consider to be success (not that they didn’t give up any runs, but that they didn’t give up more runs than innings pitched). The emphasis on Alan Oaks isn’t really that emphatic, he has two appearances in 2007. Those two appearances were opposite ends of the spectrum. The first was a third of an inning against EMU where he hit a couple batters and walked one to give up a run on no hits. His second came against Vandy in the regional where he pitched a scoreless/hitless 1.2 innings with a walk and a strikeout (against that year’s manbearfreak of college baseball Pedro Alvarez).
The only other good came off the bats of LaMarre, Dufek, and Crank who each homered, and Alan Oaks who went 2/5 with a double.
The rest of the game was just bad. Crank (one run) and Kalcyznski each had an error at catcher. Toth had one for good measure too (2 runs). Crank also had a passed ball for an unearned run. Kalczynski also gave up a free base to a catcher’s interference call. Twice in as many games? Timmy Kal, back of the plate, man.
- Alan Oaks – 2/5 2B; 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K, HBP
- Toth, Crank, Kalczynski – reasons listed in that last paragraph of the recap
- Mike Wilson – .2 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, BB (there were more runs, but not his fault)
- Matt Gerbe – 0.0 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BF
- Kevin Cislo – 0/4 3 LOB
We’re tied (4-way) for fifth, and only 1 game behind the first place team. That is lucky as hell after the way we’ve played the last two weekends. My expectations for the team are falling pretty fast. With the massive amount of inconsistency, added with the sloppy play all weekend on defense, I’m not sure we get higher than a 4 seed in the BTT now. But as Eric Sorenson states, it can be done:
Hmmm, with the rest of the Big 10 playing some wicked-good baseball, maybe this signifies a paradigm shift at the top. Minnesota, fresh off a series win over No. 24 Ohio State, and Illinois, who lost two of three vs. Indiana, now take the reins of the top of the conference standings. There IS a way back for the Maize and Blue though. The Wolverines host both the Illini and the Gophers starting next week with UI.
The good news is the power part of the offense seems to be clicking right now. The bad news is the manufacturing of runs is still way low. We did see a slight increase in sacrifice bunts over the last two weeks, and they did lead to some runs. That said though, Michigan still stranded 28 runners in the series. We’ve got to start getting those runs in. We hit into 4 double plays this weekend, 3 in the Game 1 loss. We struck out 27 times as well, including 12 times in the Game 1 loss and 10 in the Game 3 loss.
Tim Kalcyznski was quoted in the Daily as thus:
“This could be a turning point,” Kalczynski said. “It could go one of two ways. It could go uphill really fast or downhill really fast. It’s just a matter of how mentally tough we are and how we respond.”
Next weekend is our chance to redeem ourselves and perhaps jump ahead in the standings. Michigan hosts the top team in the BigTen standings in Illinois. The Illini sit atop alone (two teams are tied for second at 3-2) with a 4-2 record. The Illini swept Michigan State in week 1 of Big10 play, but dropped 2 games this weekend at Indiana. The Illini feature some great pitching, so it may be tough pickings for runs again this weekend.
As for the midweek, the Akron game has already been canceled due to the snow storm (ha! It’s 75 degrees where I’m at today, and that’s after a cold front). The Wednesday game versus Central Michigan is still set for 6:05pm.