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Preview: Penn State

vs. Penn State

from psu.edu

12:05pm Saturday, 30 minutes after Game 1 (~3:30pm), 1;05pm Saturday (all EDT)
Ray Fisher Stadium
Ann Arbor, MI

Media Game 1: Live Stats and Audio, TV: BTN
Probable Starters Game 1: Chris Fetter (3-1) vs Macy (2-2)
Media Game 2: Live Stats and Audio
Probable Starters Game 2: Eric Katzman (4-2) vs Grumley (2-1)
Media Game 3: Live Stats and Audio
Probable Starters Game 3: Mike Wilson (1-0) vs Lorentson (0-1)
Series: Michigan trails 33-40
Last Meeting: Michigan won 3 of 4 in 2008 @ PSU
Last Michigan Loss: Recap - 1-10, L – Travis Smith (.2 IP in the start)

Penn State Baseball Blog:  HappyValleyHardball

Overview

Penn State comes into Ann Arbor with a 15-11 record on the season, and 1-2 in BigTen play. The BigTen series was against current conference favorite Ohio State with scores of 3-8, 2-12, and 15-11. The split a pair of mid week games against Bucknell (W) and Kent State (L). Both of those teams are upper middle in the ranks of NCAA at 133 and 111 in psuedo RPI. Meanwhile Penn State currently comes in at 78 in those same rankings.

Penn State has been playing about the same level of baseball as Michigan this season. By that, I mean they’ve played solid ball, but they aren’t really dominating teams. Looking at their win-loss record so far, I’d argue that they’ve actually played a little bit better than we have based off the teams they’ve beaten.

The Weather

Despite the amazing weather in Ann Arbor today (Thursday), things look ugly the next 24 hours. It looks so bad (100% chance of rain with wind gusts up to 40 mph) that the two teams pushed back the Friday game without even trying. The two teams will instead play a doubleheader beginning Saturday at 12:05pm. The second game will follow 30 minutes after the first is completed, probably around 3-3:30pm.

If the field drains quickly enough, the weather for Saturday is currently looking to be sunny with a high around 50 degrees. Sunday looks for more horrible weather as there is a 60% chance of rain with highs in the low 40s. I’m not confident about getting any games in there, but you never know.

Winds look to be from the northwest or west by northwest at 15-20 mph on Saturday., which means right to left cross winds, maybe even a bit in from right field. This is the same thing we’ve had the last few days, so don’t expect fly balls to right field to carry out. On Sunday they are due to switch to the east by northeast, which is out to right center.

The Team

Lineup

The Nittany Lions as a team aren’t the greatest hitting bunch, but they are hitting .301 as a team and scoring 7.3 runs per game (98th in NCAA). The do strikeout a little bit, but not at quite the same clip as the Wolverines.

Most of their offense is sparked through lead off man Blake Lynd. Lynd ranks 49th in the NCAA with a .427 batting average, and he also boasts a .510 on base percentage. Lynd is definitely a singles hitter, with just one extra base hit in 35 knocks. The junior center fielder is currently 13/18 in stolen base attempts. As a side note, the junior college Lynd came from last year (and went to the JUCO World Series with) was where I took dual credit classes at in high school. Weird.

Behind Lynd is generally senior second basemen Landon Nakata. Nakata isn’t a big hitting threat, batting only .286 on the season (63 at bats). He’ll be used more to sacrifice bunt Lynd around the base or even hit and run. Nakata does split some time with junior Louie Picconi, but he’s even less of a threat, batting only .196 in 46 at bats.

Left field and the three hole are nearly exclusively Mike Deese’s. Deese, a senior, hasn’t really taken over as the RBI producer this year, especially without a good number two hitter, but he has knocked in 25 RBIs on the season. He does the some power, already hitting 6 doubles and a home run on the season.

Behind Deese is Cory Wine at first base. Wine is the team’s RBI leader with 28 on the year. He also ranks second on the team with a .389 batting average. He’s actually the teams leading run scorer as well with 25. Wine also is tied for the team home run lead with 2 and firmly holds the team lead with 10 doubles. In all, he holds a .579 slugging percentage.

In the five hole, third basemen Jordan Steranka will get many chances to knock in Deese and Wine. On the year he has 25 RBI and a .359 batting average. Steranka has the second highest slugging percentage of any of the regulars at .511.

The six through nine hitters change often for PSU, but the most consistent player in this area has to be Grant Youngblood platooning in right field. Youngblood is batting .314 in 19 starts. He shares right field with Rick Marlin who also has made 20 starts. These two also work into the DH role (for you math majors scratching your heads). Marlin is only hitting .227 on the season, and hasn’t really seen too many runs or RBIs come to his credit.

At catcher, the Nittany Lions split time between a pair of sophomores, Jacobs and Heath. Jacobs has been getting more of the time, but hasn’t taken the job exclusively. On the season, Jacobs is hitting .302 with 12 runs and 10 RBIs. Heath will probably catch one of the last two games. He’s currently batting .270 with 6 runs and 5 RBI.

Shortstop Michael Glantz is the only starter at his position, but his spot in the lineup floats up and down from seven to nine in almost every game. He’s batting .281 on the season wiht 18 runs and 8 RBI.

Also keep an eye out for Wes Borden to DH. He had a lot of playing time last year, but has lost his swing. He’s splitting time with the two right fielders for the DH spot, batting just .218 with 13 runs and 9 RBI.

Starting Pitching

Everything starts with T.J. Macy. Macy is the definite stud on the team, posting a 2.31 ERA on the season (61st in NCAA). He’s had some tough draws on the season, such as the 1-0 complete game loss to Texas, so don’t let that 2-2 record fool you. Macy is good. In his last start, he began the game just allowing one runner in the first 4 2/3 innings pitched, but ultimately the Ohio State team (17 in the nation in hitting) knocked him for a 5 sp0t in the 5th inning. He ended the game with 7 innings, 5 ER, 4 hits, 5 walks, and 5 Ks.

Calvin Grumley is slated to start game 2. The left hander has struggled a bit in his 7 appearances, 5 starts, posting a 7.14 ERA in 29 innings of work. His opponent batting average sits just over .314. His last outing was a no decision in game 3 versus the Buckeyes, lasting only 4 1/3 inning, giving up 7 runs on 7 hits, 2 walks, and 3 Ks.

Mike Lorentson, another left hander, is scheduled to finish the series on the mound. He’s currently 1-3 after 9 appearances, 5 starts. His 6.18 ERA isn’t really that good. His last start came against Kent State on March 24th, where he earned the victory. He pitched 7 2/3 innings, giving up 2 runs on 5 hits, 1 walk, and four strike outs. His last appearance was a relief outing on Wednesday, only throwing an inning, giving up 3 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits and one walk.

Bullpen

David Lutz is the first person we’ll see out of the bullpen when its close late. Lutz has 14 appearance this season including one save. His 3.80 ERA is second only to Macy on the team. Lutz has only struck out 13 in his 21 innings, and he does give up about a hit per inning.

Freshman right hander Ryan Ignas is another reliever we’re sure to see this weekend (probably Sunday as he had a 3 inning start on Wednesday). He’s had 11 appearances this year including that start. His ERA is 5.24, but he does have 2 saves.

Junior Jesse Alfreno also has 10 relief appearances this season. His 4.20 ERA is one of the best of the relief corp. He does have an 8-to-5 walk to strikeout ratio, so that is in our favor.

Lastly, Scott Kelly, previously of the starting rotation, is now going to be tried out as the team’s closer. Kelly has been pretty good this season in 8 appearances, 6 starts. He has an ERA of 3.86, 4-3 record, and opponent batting average of .496.

Outlook

If Chris Fetter can out duel Macy, Michigan should take at least 2 of 3 games. I remain skeptical about the sweep just because of Katzman and Wilson’s inconsistent pitching. Penn State also is very good about inducing double plays, ranking 19th in the NCAA at 1.21 per game. They are a little bit better of a team than anyone else we’ve played. I’d put them just a step below Arizona (if they had Stoffel, I’d call them even).

That said, I think they finish just over .500 for the Big10 season, good enough for a six (bottom) seed in the Big10 Tourney. Michigan must take 2 of 3 from these guys to keep up with the top teams in the conference. This series will be the big test (if we get all the games in) on how well Michigan will do the rest of the Big10 season.

Other Note(s) for the Weekend

BTN Cancels Coverage

The first game of the doubleheader, originally scheduled for Friday was due to be shown on the BigTen Network. With the reschedule, the game will no longer be shown as there is a scheduling conflict with the Michigan softball due to be aired at 2pm. I can’t fault the BTN here (I plan to have a post on their lack of coverage at a later date), they are actually out trying to show more games by doing a couple games this weekend at Michigan. They also are broadcasting the Sunday softball game at 1pm. If you’re not in Ann Arbor, be sure to catch those games. Our softball team ranked #10 and 11 in the two polls that matter.

Promotions

I meant to include these in previous previews, but the program provides several promotions throughout the present season. Mostly unintentional alliteration aside, this weekend continues the trend of ways to encourage attendance:

Saturday, April 4, vs. Penn State, 1:05 p.m.
Michigan Baseball Hot Chocolate/Coffee Mug Giveaway — The first 250 fans will receive a thermal Michigan baseball mug. In addition, stop by and fill your mug with complimentary hot chocolate or coffee while supplies last.

Sunday, April 5, vs. Penn State, 1:05 p.m.
High School Team Night #1 — High school baseball teams are invited to attend these games FREE of charge! All members of the team and up to three coaches are eligible to receive FREE admission by faxing (734-615-1567) or emailing (katjacks@umich.edu) a roster at least two days prior to the game(s) they plan to attend.

Kids Run the Bases — Immediately following the conclusion of the game, all kids in eighth grade and under will have an opportunity to run the bases!

Trading Card Giveaway #1 — The first 500 fans will receive the first set of Michigan baseball trading cards

The hot chocolate and coffee is enough to get me there early.

Posted under Baseball

Mid Week Roundup

Before I get into the recap of the two midweek games (and oh, what a pair they were), a couple of things to close out the previous weekend:

Poll Watch

Poll Current LW
RPI (3/23/09) 157 112
NCBWA NR NR*
Collegiate Baseball NR NR
BaseballAmerica NR NR
Ping!Baseball NR NR
Rivals NR NR
USA Today/ESPN 40* 42*

As you can see Michigan dropped out of the Writer’s poll finally and the RPI took a hit, too.  The Coaches Poll still manages to get Michigan votes, but why – I just don’t know.  This team is playing nowhere near the caliber of play to deserve a ranking.  Some of these coaches need to do nothing more than look at our 8 losses.  As for RPI, our soft schedule and poor showing lately have left us now in the bottom half of Division 1.  There is no way to make the tournament without winning the BigTen title now.

Links From Earlier in the Week

Michigan Daily Sports blog “The Game” named Kenny Fellows athlete of the week for his performance on Sunday.  Apparently they didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the weekend

The Daily also featured a column by Tim Rohan about needing to play more small ball.  I think article dances around the subject a lot, but I agree that we need to move the runners around a bit more.  The strikeouts are worriesome, so are the pickoffs.  Coming into the mid week games, we’ve been picked off 11 times.  In comparison we’ve only picked off 6.  The national average is a shade below 6.

Timmy Kalcyznski did a liveblog-ish type post over the weekend at Iowa.  Bus trouble was rampant, crazy antics everywhere, veterans treating rookies like rookies.  Very entertaining read.

Dufek, Cislo, and Fetter all make the BigTen Hardball All Weekend Team.  Fetter’s complete game only earns him the #3 starter, and rightfully so.  There were plenty of complete games in the BigTen this weekend.  Iowa had 3 pitchers make the team.

Bowling Green

Box Score R H E
BGSU 3 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 2 8 12 1
Michigan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 3 5 3

W – Gerdeman (1-2) L – Brandon Sinnery (1-2)  Sv – Hawk (2)

Thank goodness for automatic bids to the NCAA; it is our only chance to make the dance now.  I was lucky enough to be working during this game, as the box score looks ugly as I don’t know what.   Michigan lost every aspect (pitching, offense, baserunning, and defense) in this game.  It was just all around ugly.

We’ll start with the offense.  Michigan had 5 hits in this game, 3 of them came in the 7th. Dufek opened the frame with the longball, scoring the first run of the game.  After a McLouth walk, Oaks followed up with a homerun of his own.  Toth knocked a single (his second of the game) with two outs, but he was caught stealing.

That’s pretty much it.  Fellows had a double in the 6th with 2 outs but was stranded.  Three runs against a team that ranks 232 out of 288 NCAA teams ranked in ERA?  Striking out 9 times against a team that only averages 5.7 a game?  Ouch.

On the mound, things didn’t fair much better.  Brandon Sinnery threw four innings, and I’m not entirely sure why.  His pitch count was on 66, and judging by the play by play, he had really settled down nicely after the rough first inning.  The first inning saw Brandon give up 3 runs on four hits and a hit batsmen.  He followed up by retiring 9 for the next 11 batters.

Matt Miller came in to relieve Sinnery and started things off by giving up a lead off home run.  Great start. He gave up a single right after that, but managed to work his way out of any further damage.

The 6th inning run can be placed squarely on Lorenz.  With one out and a runner on first, Lorenz fielded a ground ball and went for two.  This was the throwing error of the inning, allowing the runners to advance to second and third.  During the next at bat, Lorenz was charged with a fielding error on a pick off attempt at third base allowing the run to score.

Bowling Green added another run charged to Miller in the 8th.  After giving up a walk in a bunt single, Miller was removed for Dufek who gave up a sacrifice bunt and fly to score the run.  Dufek would give up one more earned run in the ninth from a double and single back-to-back with two outs.  On the same single, LaMarre misplayed the ball allowing runners to advance, including one run to score (unearned).  Another run would come in on the next batter as he singled to right – that run also unearned.

Just ugly everywhere.  As said at the outset of this recap, it’s BigTen Tournament title or bust for this team now.   The rest of the mid week games mean absolutely nothing.

Notable Stars

  • Anthony Toth – 2/3  hitting streak at 10 games
  • Dufek/Oaks – All 3 RBIs on a pair of 7th inning homeruns, Dufek’s hitting streak is 15

Notable Goats

  • John Lorenz – 2 Errors in an inning leading to a run
  • Ryan LaMarre – Error lead to two runs (this may be less of a problem if it was wind induced, but I haven’t heard the game yet, somebody leave a comment if they have details)
  • Offense as a unit – 5 hits? Really?
  • Kevin Cislo – 0/4  First time he hasn’t reached base in 68 games

Other Notes

Oakland

Box Score R H E
Oakland 0 2 6 0 0 1 4 0 0 13 14 0
Michigan 0 0 2 1 9 1 0 1 X 14 15 2

W – Eric Katzman (4-2)   L – Welke (2-3)    Sv – Dufek (2)

Wow, wow.  This game was ugly.  Just how ugly?  Let’s let Ann Arbor News writer Kevin Ryan tell you how bad it was:

The victory, which put Michigan at 16-7 on the season, came after 3 hours and 57 minutes of play. The game needed 14 pitchers, featured 10 doubles among 29 hits, 48 base-runners and had more foul balls than fans in the stands at 6:30 p.m. (there were 94 on-lookers, to be exact).

In all fairness to the fans, the game started with 694 fans at the game when it was still sunny and warm out.  Both teams looked pretty horrible for large stretchs of this game driving down attendance.

I’m not going to try and recap all of the game, but we’ll walk through a couple key points, starting with pitching.  It started really badly.  Kolby Wood showed signs of rust in the 2nd and 3rd innings, the latter he would never escape from.  Reliever Jeff DeCarlo was worse.  He only gave up one hit in his 1/3 of an inning pitched, but he did manage to walk 3 and hit a batter while giving up 4 runs.  In all, he threw 23 pitches, 8 were strikes.

Gerbe came in to finish the third inning, but the damage was pretty much done already.  He worked himself in and out of a few jams, allowing an unearned run in the 6th (Lorenz throwing error).  He lost control to start the 7th and would eventually be credited with a pair of earned runs.

Burgoon came in here and couldn’t get out of the inning.  He ended up leaving early with an yet undisclosed injury.  Katzman came in to stop the bleeding and pitched 1 1/3 innings allowing only one baserunner via hit by pitch.  Dufek asked for the ball on short rest to close out the ninth.

Offense went a little bit better.  Four batters (Fellows, LaMarre, Dufek, and Kalcyznski) each had multiple hit games.  Six starters had multiple RBIs, four had multiple runs scored.  Out of the 15 hits, 9 were doubles.  Mike Kittle, filling in for the supposedly injured Cislo, was the only batter without a hit in the game, but even he walked once.

Notable Stars

  • Ryan LaMarre – 3/3  3 R, 3 RBI, 2b, 2 BBs (5/5 on base)
  • Mike Dufek – 3/5 R,  3 RBI, BB, 3 2bs, BB (hitting streak 16 games)
  • Kenny Fellows – 3/5  2 R, 2 RBI, 2 2bs, BB (hitting lead off)

Notable Goats

  • Fellows and Lorenz – each had an error, neither lead to runs though
  • Jeff DeCarlo – 1/3 IP, H, 3 BB, HBP, 4 ER;  honestly I never expect from DeCarlo, but this was just pretty bad.

Other Notes

Cislo was supposedly hurt coming into this game and was held out of the starting lineup.  He did make an appearance as a defensive replacement in the top of the 9th inning making a pretty good bare hand play to get a ball deflected off the pitcher Dufek’s glove.   The injury hasn’t been disclosed to any media outlet I’ve seen; hopefully he’s back to 100% by the weekend.

Speaking of injury, I missed the exit by Burgoon, so I’m not sure what happened there.  MGoBlue.com generally has a day or so lay over before you can go back and listen to games, so if anyone heard the call or has the information, leave a note in the comments.  Hopefully its something minor and we’ll have him back by mid weekend.

And while this game may be one of the few higher scoring ugly games we see all season, at least it was close unlike this 49-1 routing of Kentucky State by Eastern Kentucky.

Headed to the Weekend

Penn State comes to Ann Arbor this weekend for the home opener of the Big10 season.  I hope to get out a preview sometime tomorrow night late.  Tomorrow is my day to catch up on everything before another busy weekend.  I’ll miss the first two games of the series as I head over to Austin for a little tourism in Hippie Land.

Posted under Baseball

Weekend Recap: Iowa

I’ve had a really busy weekend full of umpiring and school related things, so this was pushed back a day.  Just a reminder, Michigan is at home today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday) at 3:05pm for a pair of mid week games again Bowling Green and Oakland respectively.  Get out and support the baseball team! –FA

Game 1

Box Score R H E
Michigan 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 4 8 0
Iowa 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 5 1

W – Chris Fetter (4-1) L – Schatz (1-1) Sv – None

The team sputtered out of the game, collecting several hits, but never having the big inning. In the first inning, Iowa start Nick Brown went 1-2-3 through the top of the order on just 13 pitches.  Cislo, who is ranked nationally for fewest strikeouts per at bat, and Fellows both K’d to start the game, and LaMarre was robbed of a single by Brown who showed he can also field his position well, grabbing a line shot right at him.  Chris Fetter even came out in this game looking a little shaky.  Fetter gave up 3 hits (one double) and a walk in the inning, allowing 3 runs – all earned.  Iowa came out swinging but Michigan wasn’t going down without a fight.

In the top of the second, Michigan answered right back, capitalizing on a Hawkeye error to open the inning.  The tone was set on the opening pitch of the inning when Mike Dufek lined a hard grounder at the first basemen, who couldn’t come up with the ball.  McLouth followed up with a single and Oaks walked to load the bases, setting up John Lorenz with a big RBI opportunity.  Lorenz fell short of the RBI, but in name only.  Dufek would score when Lorenz grounded into a 6-4-3 double play (double plays negate RBIs).  Timmy Kal closed out the scoring in the 2nd with an RBI single to score McLouth.

Fetter also came out more focused in the second inning.  Over the next 8 innings (yes, he threw a complete game), Fetter would allow only 2 more base runners, both from singles; one of those base runners was caught stealing, therefore only causing Fetter to face 25 batters in 8 innings.  Fetter was absolutely dealing.  He struck out 9 batters on the day while inducing 10 ground ball outs.  That’s a pretty solid total.  He’s definitely the player of the game.

Michigan got the go ahead run in the 8th after starter Nick Brown was relieved by Schatz.  Schatz didn’t give up a hit in the inning, but he did have two hit batsmen and a walk, allowing Kevin Cislo to fly out just deep enough into center to get pinch runner Nick Urban in safely.

I think Coach Dahm at Iowa explained it least best:

“We didn’t make many mistakes tonight, but the mistakes we did make they (Michigan) capitalized on them.

Yeah Coach, that makes a ton of sense.

Notable Stars

  • Chris Fetter – 9 IP, 3 ER, BB, 9 K, CG, W
  • Mike Dufek – 2/3 RBI, R, 2 BB

Notable Goats (stretching for these)

  • Kenny Fellows – Only player not to reach base
  • Jake McLouth – Stranded 4 runners

Other Notes

  • Iowa Press-Citizen – Iowa put up a fight but was no match for Fetter
  • The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) – Iowa played tough and is getting better, still not good

Game 2

Box Score R H E
Michigan 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 0
Iowa 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 6 0

W – Turnbull  (1-0) L – Eric Katzman (3-2) Sv – Schurz (3)

The weather went cold and so did the bats.  This game was a pitchers duel from start to finish, with neither team appearing particularly loose.  Michigan had their chances, stranding 1st and 3rd in the 2nd, being picked off at third with a runner at first in the 3rd, stranding runners at 2nd and 3rd in the 5th, and stranding runners at 1st and 3rd in the 7th for a total of seven left on base.

It seemed like Michigan could never get going unless there were already two outs in the inning.  Of those innings where we stranded multiple runners (or were picked off in the 3rd), all 6 runners reached base with two outs.  Only in the 7th were we able to string enough hits with two outs to score a run.

Two players were charged with 6 of the total LOB, Toth (4) and Kalcyznzki (2).  While Kalcynzski will do this from time to time, Toth generally doesn’t leave that many on base.  Part of what contributed to this problem was Coach Maloney moving him back into the 2-hole, reversing the switch from the Akron game.  It appears with the recent success Toth has had, and the slight slump Fellows was facing going into this game, Maloney wanted to try and spark the offense.  So much for that idea, huh?  FWIW, Coach did switch them back in game three, the results of which are forthcoming.

On the mound, Katzman had a pretty damn good game.  He went 6 1/3 innings, givnig up 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9.  That is a little bit better than your normal Katzman, so Coach has to feel good about that.  Matt Miller and Tyler Burgoon came in relief of Katzman.  Miller only faced one batter, walking him.  Burgoon then came in, walked a batter, then threw a wild pitch, allowing the second run of the game to score (Katzman’s runner).

For Iowa, their starting pitcher, the freshman Hippen pitched a great game.  The lefty has the build to be a good starter, especially if he can get some support around him.  We’ll be seeing much more of him in the next 3 years.

Notable Stars

  • The Pitching Staff (Katzman, Miller, Burgoon) – 8 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 5 K

Notable Goats

  • The offense – 6 H, 1 R, 12 K
  • Toth – NEVER END AN INNING GETTING OUT AT THIRD BASE

Other Notes

  • BTN.com – Iowa played well today, Hippen will be good

Game 3

Box Score R H E
Michigan 0 0 2 3 0 0 0 2 0 7 12 3
Iowa 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 5 8 5

W – Travis Smith (4-2) L -Freie (2-2) Sv – Burgoon (3)

The good news is we won and the top half of the order decided to make up for the lack of production in game 2 with a huge effort in game 3.  The bad news is the radio broadcast was cut out due to technical difficulties. Blast – but I’ll take the win, even if its with a temporary snow fence in the outfield:

Because of the snow, and how it affected the non-covered warning track, a temporary blue construction-like fence was put in place to eliminate the warning track from the field of play, shortening Banks Field anywhere from 14-18 feet.

Mike Wilson started this game, but couldn’t make it out of the 3rd inning.  His first inning was solid, his second inning he escaped trouble, but things fell apart in the third.  In the inning he allowed three hits and a walk for a total of three runs.

Travis Smith entered here and did very well.  Over the next 4 1/3 innings, he’d only give up one unearned run on 2 hits, a walk, and 3 strikeouts.  I’m wondering if the last two appearances won’t get him a bid back into the starting rotation.  He’s done fairly well in the long relief behind Wilson, but the fact we are forced to go to long relief behind Wilson may signal the end of Mike’s stint in the Sunday starter role.

Burgoon also made an appearance in this game, working the final two innings to earn the save.  Burgoon did pretty well despite the run scoring.  He gave up a lead off double followed by two ground outs, the second of which scored a run.  He induced 5 ground balls and struck out a batter.  You can tell Burgoon is on by the higher ground ball to strikeout ratio.  He tends to have a bit more bite on his slider and keeps it down, while his fastball cuts downward slightly.

On offense, Coach Maloney switched Fellows and Toth back into the 2 and 9 hole respectively.  I think Fellows got the message from Maloney that he needed to produce.  Kenny went 4 for 5 on the day with 3 runs and 2 RBIs.  Monster game for Fellows.

Cislo consistently set up Fellows in the right situations, going 2 for 4 with a walk and 3 runs.  LaMarre followed up nicely after Fellows going 2 for 4 with a walk, and Mike Dufek did some cleaning up… in the clean up spot… with a 3 for 5 day and 3 RBIs.  Other than Toth’s 1 for 4 with a run, the rest of the lineup was silent.

Something I found peculiar was Alan Oaks being pulled from the game in the second inning.  He had just struck out (0/2 2 Ks), so I’m not sure if he was being pushed to the bench for his recent lack of offensive production or if he hurt himself.  I sent a quick email to the booth, but they weren’t quite sure what happened either.  We’ll see what sort of playing time he gets the next two days, then we’ll know for sure.

Between Oaks, his replacement Aspinwall, McLouth, Lorenz, and Timmy Kal, the bottom middle of the lineup went a combined 0 for 18 this game.  Toss in Toth and its a whole 1 for 22.  So… Is Nick Urban still sick or what?  Berset can’t get that hand healed fast enough.  We definitely need a kick in this area of the lineup.  It’s been plagued with inconsistency.

Notable Stars

  • Top 4 in the Lineup – 11/18 6 R, 5 RBI, 2B, 3 SB
  • Travis Smith – 4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Notable Goats

  • Mike Wilson – 2.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 2 K
  • Defense – 3 errors? are you kidding me?
  • Anthony Toth – Unearned run from a fielding error, separate throwing error

Other Notes

  • Michigan Daily – Weekend Recap, we’re scrappy, glad the running games going.  I fully expect anyone who reads that article to make a comment about David Eckstein.

Wrap Up

So we finished the weekend 2-1 which has us tied for 2nd place in the BigTen behind Illinois and tied with Ohio State.  That’s a pretty good start.  I think we really needed to sweep this weekend though.  I don’t think it will cost us a spot in the tournament by any stretch, but every win will be important this season with the stiff competition forming.  Iowa probably wont finish any higher than 7th in the BigTen this year, and that may be generous.  I pegged them for 8th before the conference season began.  Like I said, we really should have swept, but the stranding runners and making meh pitchers look great caught up to us again.  Blame the cold weather, the bus trip, whatever.  It’s gone now and all the boys can do is continue to work hard to win more games.

Next weekend we get a step up in competition with Penn State at home.  The Nittany Lions are a middle of the road BigTen team, I’d place around 5-7th place range.  They have some quality pitching, but don’t quite have the hitting prowess.

As for today (Tuesday), we face Bowling Green at the Fish at 3:05pm.  Tomorrow (Wednesday) is Coach Maloney’s former program Oakland.  I’ll try to get some sort of preview out by the game, but I’ve been swamped by things the last two days (hence this being late as it is).

Posted under Baseball

Preview: Iowa

@Iowa

from hawkeyesports.com

5pm Friday, 2pm Saturday, 2pm Saturday (all EDT)
Duane Banks Baseball Field
Iowa City, IA

Media Game 1: Live Stats and Audio
Probable Starters Game 1: Chris Fetter (3-1) vs Nick Brown (1-1)
Media Game 2: Live Stats and Audio
Probable Starters Game 2: Eric Katzman (3-1) vs Josh Hippen (1-0)
Media Game 3: Live Stats and Audio
Probable Starters Game 3: Mike Wilson (1-0) vs Wes Freie (2-1)
Series: Michigan leads 97-42
Last Meeting: Michigan sweeps 4 at Home in 2008
Last Michigan Loss: 2007 at Iowa (Michigan took 3/4)

Overview

Iowa is a team expected to finish near the bottom of the Big10 this year. So far this season they are 8-10, with an RPI of 235 (boyd’s world). They do have one good win at Louisville, the middle game of their 3 game set, winning 2-1.

The Hawkeyes have used many looks for their batting lineup so far in an attempt to create some offensive cohesion. They, like Michigan, have been hitting pretty well, but have struggled in putting it together to score runs. Overall, the Hawkeyes rank #138 in team batting average and #119 in scoring.

Pitching hasn’t been good. The team ERA is 6.73, good for 216th in the NCAA. Strikeouts also come at a fairly slow pace, just 6.6 per nine innings. This team, much like several others we’ve played recently, just isn’t that good.

Even Coach Dahm has begun using things like “it doesn’t matter if we win or lose.” He did a video interview with the Daily Iowan full of quotes coaches from struggling teams have.

The Field

The Hawkeyes play at Duane Banks Baseball Field, situated on the west side of campus near Carver Arena and Kinnick Stadium. Home plate faces north by northeast, meaning with the north wind coming in this weekend, not many balls are going to carry out of the park. The dimensions of the field are nearly symmetrical, with the lines being 330 feet, the power alleys at 375 feet, and straight away center being 400 feet. The fences are a little tall at 10 feet, but that’s not all that unusual. Along with the aforementioned wind, rain and even possibly snow is expected to be in the forecast on Friday and Saturday. This shouldn’t help our power numbers either.

They’ve only held 3 games at home before this series. The home opener did not have an official attendance, but game two was reported at just over 570 fans, which is well below the 3,000 person capacity. It shouldn’t be too intimidating.

The Team

Lineup

Leading off, at least most often, is third basemen Kevin Hoef. Hoef is a senior who has a career batting average of .321. Last year was his big break out as a junior, batting .357. This is his fourth year as a starter, but it’s also been his roughest stretch at bat. He is currently batting .237 and he’s been hit a NCAA high 14 times in 17 games. So while the average has been low, his on-base percentage of .410, aided by those hit-by-pitches, has kept him in the lead off spot. Hoef is also a threat on the bases, currently 7 for 8 in stolen base attempts. Hoef has also struggled a little bit on offense this year, already having 6 errors. I’m not sure what’s up with this; his defense has been much better in years past.

iowa-depth-chart

Iowa Depth Chart against Coe on Tuesday

Behind Hoef will be shortstop Justin Toole who generally in the 3 spot, but sometimes bats second or even lead off. Toole has been Iowa’s star on defense and offense for the last few seasons, but the senior has never been awarded higher than 3rd team All Big10. Jason Christian at Michigan was a big reason why. Regardless, Toole hit .395 last season, good for 5th in the conference. This season, Toole still has a very good batting average, coming in at .353 with a team high 16 runs. He’s also collected 13 RBIs. On the base paths, Toole will try to keep the defense on its toes. So far he’s 5 for 8 on the season.  Toole is coming off BigTen Player of the Week honors.  Along with scoring 9 and driving in 9 RBIs, he had four multiple hit games.  His OPS for the week was 1.210, yikes.

The clean up spot is senior designated hitter Wes Freie. Freie is another Hawkeye to hit the starting stage last year with break out numbers, hitting .342. This year he is currently batting .333 with 14 runs, 15 RBIs, and 4 homers.

Behind these three, and even in the 2 hole, the order changes often. The top RBI producer for the team is senior first basemen T.J. Catalado with 19 on the season. He also is tied for the lead in team home runs with 4. His batting average is also pretty good at .304. Catalado has batted 6th 12 times and 5th 4 times.

Center field appears to be locked down after a rotating cast. Sophomore Kurtis Muller, listed as 5’0″ and the starter currently. He’s only batting .242 and has a 1:8 walk to strikeout ratio, surprising for a little guy. He is 3/4 stealing bases.

Junior right fielder Ryan Durant also has started consistently for the Hawkeyes. So far this season, he is batting .339 with 9 runs and 9 RBIs. In left field, the Hawkeyes start a rotating cast. One is a sophomore with a name I absolutely think is fake… Zach McCool. McCool is hitting .293 this year, which isn’t too impressive, but he does have a pair of homers and a triple this season. You might even see him at second base this weekend.

Other people in the rotating cast of left field and second base include freshman infielder Mike McQuillan who is only batting .263 with 8 runs, freshman infielder Chett Zeise who is batting .355 with 7 runs and 2 RBI, or sophomore Travis Willis who is batting .118 with 2 home runs.

Starting Pitching

The Hawkeyes have started seven different players this year on the mound. Their rotation last week featured Nick Brown, Micheal Jacobs, and Wes Freie (yes, the same Freie who is listed as the DH).

Freie has the best numbers out of the three, currently with a 2-1 record and 5.40 ERA in 4 starts. Over his 18 1/3 innings pitched, he’s given up 26 hits, 8 walks, and struck out a team high 20. Ten of those 26 hits have been for extra bases, which hopefully bodes well for Michigan. His most recent start was this Sunday in a win at Western Illinois. Freie went 5 innings only giving up one run on 6 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, and 2 hit batters.

Micheal Jacobs has the most starts on the team with 5, but they haven’t been all that successful. He’s currently 1-4 on the year with a 7.00 ERA. The lefty has had some tough luck on the mound. This season, his defense has already hung 7 unearned runs while Jacobs is on the mound. He hasn’t helped his own cause either though, allowing an opponent batting average of .384. Jacobs isn’t going to strike out many (well, unless Michigan continues its current strikeout pace); he only has 7 Ks on the year. His last start was a loss at home against Western Illinois. He lasted 3 innings, giving up 5 runs (all earned) on 8 hits and a walk.

Nick Brown earned his way into the weekend starting rotation two weekends ago, just in time to face a ranked Louisville team. In his first start, a loss, he lasted 5 1/3 inning, allowing 10 hits for 6 runs (5 earned) with 4 walks. In his second start, he picked up his first win at home against Western Illinois, lasting 6 1/3, allowing just 5 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), with a walk and four strikeouts. He seems like just the sort of pitcher that has their career day against Michigan lately.

Bullpen

The bullpen actually has a couple decent players in it for Iowa. Josh Hippen (LHP) and Patrick Schatz (RHP) are the two primary relievers. Schatz has the better ERA of the two at 2.25, and also sports a 1-0 record in 16 innings. He has an even 8 walks and 8 strikeouts. He also has had trouble with his defense, who has given up 6 unearned runs while on the mound.

Hippen is the stereotypical starter build at 6’3″, and has the strikeout numbers too. In his 18 innings, he’s struck out 13 batters. He’s only given up 6 total runs (all earned) and walked nine.  Update: Hippen has been promoted to the Saturday starting spot for this weekend according to the weekend release, which will hit the shelves soon).

Outlook

As bad as Iowa is, they can get on base and score runs. Michigan has made it a habit lately to make meh pitchers look pretty good. I still think Michigan takes every game in the series, but they will be much closer than I would want us to be playing. Ultimately, it will just come down to “can Michigan move the runners around and score them?” I’ll take the optimistic yes.

Other Note(s) for the Weekend

BigTenNetwork airs its first baseball game of the season on Friday at 7pm, Michigan State vs Illinois. The BTN will also air their Saturday game at 4pm. Michigan will make its BTN debut next week against Penn State. I was hoping they would stream the baseball games, or at least offer them for replay, but I’m not sure what the plans are at BTN.com.

Weekly Releases from the SID are now going to semiweekly in order to get more information out.  Midweek games will be covered on Tuesdays (unless travel pushes it back) and weekends will be released on Thursday.  This is to make sure information stays fresh.  I think its a net positive change.  I went looking through old releases earlier in the week to start my preview for Iowa, and let me tell you, the stuff the SID office is putting out now is amazing compared to just 2 years ago.

SEBaseball.com released their updated projection of the field of 64; Michigan is unsurprisingly not in it.  The good news for the Big10 is two teams did make it in, so we at least are getting some respect from the big boys down south.  The two teams you ask?  Ohio State gets a #1 seed (!) and hosts (!!!).  They are the lowest 1 seed, but wow, I didn’t expect that.  Minnesota is labeled a #2 seed as the at large bid, but they get placed in the Cal State Fullerton (overall #1 seed) and play Arizona as a #3 seed.  I think we can all atest that Arizona is no cupcake at a #3 seed.  Illinois is probably just outside of the tournament right now, but has a resume to have them in consideration.  The Big10 only sent one team to the tourney last year, but did send 3 in 2007, including Michigan, Minnesota, and Ohio State.  They’d love to do it again.

Posted under Baseball

Stat Watch Addendum: Week 5

Stat Person/Team Rank
Ks/9 Team 20th
HR/G Team 37th
FLD% Team 29th
R/G Cislo 32th
RBi/G LaMarre 32th
BB/9 Fetter 60th

So I put out the Stat Watch a few days too early as the NCAA released their first set of weekly statistic releases. While I can’t get you a direct link to the Michigan page (or haven’t figured out a way so far), it isn’t hard to get to it by starting here. To get to the Michigan page, go to Division I, week of 3/23/09, Team All Statistics. We’re team #61 (as sorted by batting average). Click on Michigan and you’ll see how we stack up in 25 team categories, and how our team leaders stack up in 32 individual statistics. Most individual leader boards top out at about 300 players. Katzman and Fetter both show up in a few of the pitching categories while Cislo, Dufek, LaMarre, Urban, and Toth all show up in the offensive categories. I’ve included some of the more notable rankings for Michigan in the chart to the right.

Something else I noticed, Arizona thanks us for that 6 GDP game, as they now rank first in double plays per game.

Yes, I am using this statistic site to distract me from the fact that we lost to Eastern Michigan today.

Posted under Baseball

Weekend Recap: IPFW

This weekend Michigan faced off with IPFW, and did it ever turn out better than the series the weekend before against Arizona. During the Arizona game, pitching was alright, but wildly inconsistent. Hitting was doing alright, but couldn’t manage to get runs across the plate. This weekend, it was all about effectively wild and moving runners around to make them easier to score. Everything shifted from alright, too pretty good.

Game 1

Box Score R H E
IPFW 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 8 0
Michigan 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 0 x 4 11 0

W – Chris Fetter (3-1) L – Walker (0-1) Sv – Burgoon (2)

For my initial reactions, visit my post from Saturday. The story of this game was pitching. Chris Fetter, despite the pretty stat line, had a fairly weak start for him. He admittedly claimed he was just missing his spots, but from the sounds of the radio crew, perhaps he was getting squeezed a little on the corners. Either way, as mentioned, his stat line was still really good. Fetter lasted 6 innings, giving up 2 runs (both earned), 7 hits, and 2 walks while striking out 5. I’d take that out of any pitcher any day of the week, it just happened that this was Fetter on an off day. He’s just that good.

Following Fetter was Tyler Burgoon for a rare 3-inning save opportunity. Burgoon only gave up 1 hit and three walks, but did allow three base runners with 2 outs in the 8th. After a brief talk with Coach Maloney, he struck out the last batter of the inning on 4 pitches. The rest was a cake walk for Tyler.

On offense, Mike Dufek was the champion in this game, and really, the whole weekend was a Mike Dufek hit-a-thon. In this game he got the scoring started with a big 2-out double off the wall to plate Cislo and LaMarre. Dufek would finish the game 2/4 with 2 RBIs.

Notable Stars

  • Mike Dufek – 2/4 2 RBI, 2B
  • Tyler Burgoon – 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 Ks, Save
  • Alan Oaks – 2/4 HR
  • Kevin Cislo – 3/4 R, RBI
  • Fan Attendance – 731 is a solid number for opening day in 40 degree temperatures. Paul tells me they got to sit right next to former baseball center fielder Rick Leach (yes, that Rick Leach).

Notable Goats

  • Kenny Fellows – Despite getting a hit and walk, he stranded 4 base runners. More on stranding runners in the coming days.

Game 2

Box Score R H E
IPFW 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 1
Michigan 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 x 4 6 1

W – Eric Katzman (3-1) L – Herrold (1-1) Sv – Miller (2)

This game probably would have bored half of the casual fans to death. Outside of the 2 innings, this game was an exercise of either offensive futility, or as I like to call it, good pitching and defensive excellence. Again, check the Saturday Reaction post for my initial thoughts.

Michigan jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first following a pair of singles by Cislo and Fellows and a Ryan LaMarre sacrifice fly. Two batters later Mike Dufek continued his hit parade with a bomb to right field. The hit even rattled a few people out of Dance Marathon as the homer hit the indoor track building where DM was taking place. Huzzah for uncounted attendance watching through the fence!

In the top of the second, Eric Katzman did his best sabotage effort. After giving up a lead off single, he then committed a throwing error on a pick off at first. The ball got away far enough from Dufek to allow the runner to second. Later on in the at-bat, Katzman balked the runner over to third. The explanation was hazy from the announcers as they didn’t see it either, but they believe he didn’t come to a full pause in the set position. He followed this up by giving up a sacrifice fly. If you ask me that’d be an earned run as it was all Katzman for letting him score, but baseball rules say its unearned.

The rest of the game Katzman was straight dealing. While he still was fairly inconsistent in hitting the strike zone, he managed to be just controlled enough to garner 10 Ks (!), a career high. Katzman was coming at the batters with many off speed pitches, including breaking balls and change ups. They were left just off balance by the several balls in the dirt that they were guessing most of the night.

Katzman was by no way economical with his pitches. Over his 6 innings, Katzman threw 100 pitches, only 61 of which were strikes. Ideally, he’d be hitting the century mark somewhere late in the 7th inning. Just for the sake of comparison, the IPFW pitcher threw all 8 innings and only threw 105 pitches. This trend of high pitch counts and early exits appear to be the normal thing for Katzman.

After Katzman left, Matt Miller entered the game for another 3-inning save opportunity – not so rare I guess. Miller picked up right where Katzman left off, striking out 5 in his 3 innings. He only allowed one hit and one walk in that time as well.

Offense for Michigan after the 2nd inning was horrendous. Not once from the third to eighth innings did Michigan ever get more than 3 batters up to the plate. Alan Oaks ended two innings with ground ball double plays. LaMarre got doubled up on a line drive back to the pitcher, which I can feel alright about as that’s just the luck of the draw. In another inning we got picked off at first. I can’t say we wasted opportunities, but we sure didn’t make the most of our base runners in this game.

Notable Stars

  • Eric Katzman – 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 10 K, 2 BB, W
  • Matt Miller – 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, Save
  • Mike Dufek – 1/2 2-run-HR, BB
  • LOB – 0 runners left on base?

Notable Goats

  • Eric Katzman in the 2nd inning – 1B, E1, Balk, SAC FLY
  • Alan Oaks – 2 inning ending double plays

Game 3

Box Score R H E
IPFW 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 11 3
Michigan 0 0 2 0 0 3 1 3 x 9 14 0

W – Travis Smith (3-2) L – Baatz (0-1)

IPFW had every chance in the world to take this game, but Mike Wilson and Travis Smith became master escape artists every time the pressure was put on. They did just enough to get out of a couple of jams, and the offense finally started to roll by the 6th inning.

Mike Wilson continued the “wildly effective” pitching routine portrayed by Eric Katzman the day before. Despite throwing first pitch strikes to 13 of his first 18 batters, Wilson quickly fell behind batters and was forced into making hitters’ pitches. When it came to crunch time, Wilson locked down and made his pitches. He stranded 8 base runners on the afternoon in just 5 innings of play.

Wilson did give up one run in the third inning. After a lead off double and two quick outs, Wilson gave up back to back singles. I guess there just wasn’t enough pressure on him, so he tried to get runners on first and third so he could pitch better?

The run gave IPFW a short-lived 1-0 lead, their last lead of the game. Mike Dufek answered in the bottom half of the third with yet another home run, his second in as many games. The home run also extended his hitting streak to 10 games. According to the broadcasters, the ball landed in the Alumni Stadium, the softball field, well past the fence of the Ray Fisher Stadium. Wow.

Travis Smith came in with a 2-0 lead at this point and was throwing gas. His control wasn’t quite there, but he also managed to work himself out of jams. Smith stranded 4 base runners in 3 innings of work. He did allow one run to score in the 6th, leaving Wilson with a no decision. Kalczynski was crossed up on a pitch which lead to a passed ball. This moved a runner to second, who then would score on an ensuing single.

With the score tied at two in the 6th, Michigan came back to answer in the bottom of the inning. John Lorenz had the big hit with two outs, a home run to left field. This sparked the offense as Toth and Cislo (career high 15 game hit streak) both followed up with singles setting the stage for a Kenny Fellows double off the right field wall. Unfortunately Fellows thought he was a little faster than he was, getting caught trying to stretch it into a triple. Michigan was then up 5-2 and would never look back.

Michigan would add another in the 7th following a Dufek double and Alan Oaks single. Yet again, we had a batter runner thrown out trying to stretch for an extra base. Oaks wasn’t nearly fast enough to stretch it into a double. I appreciate the aggressiveness from Oaks, but just because he scored on a suicide squeeze in game one doesn’t mean he can barrel into second on a shallow hit to the outfield.

Michigan added two more in the 9th. After back-to-back singles by Kalczynski and Lorenz, Cislo went to sacrifice bunt. The pitcher fielded the bunt poorly then made a hurried attempt to second which skipped to the bag. Everyone was safe. Fellows followed that with a single to score two runs. LaMarre then hit a soft pop up between the center fielder and the second basemen. The ball popped out of the second basemen’s glove as the two players collided. Both players were alright and stayed in the game. Cislo scored from third on the play, but Fellows was forced out at second as it wasn’t clear if the ball was caught. He stayed close to first in case he had to tag. Tough out, but at least the two outfielders were okay.

Mike Dufek came in after this and closed out the game. Michigan won the game and it’s first home series of the year. Things were good and “Celebrate Good Times” was played.

Notable Stars

  • Kenny Fellows – 2/5 4 RBI, 2B
  • Alan Oaks – 3/4 RBI
  • Mike Dufek – 2/4 2 R, 2 RBI, HR, 2B
  • John Lorenz – 3/4 2 R, RBI, HR
  • Kevin Cislo – 15 game hitting streak

Notable Goats

  • Ryan LaMarre – Only starter without a hit, hitless all weekend

First Inning Shenanigans

For those of you who didn’t listen to the game, there was a bit of a commotion in the top of the first inning. With runners on first and third, Wilson threw a pitch toward the plate that was well low and inside. The pitch bounced in the front of the batter’s box and bounced off toward the IPFW dugout.

Kalczynski didn’t hustle right after the ball, which sent the runners going. The runner from third scored easily, and the runner from first came all the way around as none of the players on the field knew where the ball went to… or did they? Comes to find out the umpire didn’t see the ball hit off the batter.

The umpires conferenced after Coach Maloney and Timmy Kal made their case. They made the ruling that the batter was hit by the pitch. Both runs were taken off the board and the batter was given first base without even arguing. I know if I was hit but they gave me the choice of first base with the bases loaded and one out or 2 runs in and me still at bat, I’d be hollering in that umpire’s ear that there was no way I was touched by the pitch. IPFW didn’t even attempt to argue, which worked out really poorly for them. Wilson struck out the next two batters stranding the bases loaded. The crises was averted and Michigan didn’t have to worry about being down 2-0 right out of the shoot.

Lineup Shuffling

Coach Maloney has been shuffling the lineup frequently of late. With Alan Oaks now available after missing the first month with sickness and with Chris Berset still unavailable after I believe a broken thumb, there have been a couple attempts to balance out the lineup. Most of the activity has been centered around Jake McLouth at DH, Oaks in RF or at DH, Urban in RF or at 3B, and Lorenz at 3B.

Jake McLouth has been cooling off since my initial inquiry about him switching with Dufek in the lineup. I took another look at the stats before game 3 of the weekend to see how the two had been doing. I don’t think it’s worth going into deeply here, but long story short, Dufek has caught fire. His current 10 game hitting streak started the day the change took place. Coincidence? Yes, probably. Good for the team? Of course. So do I care that much? No. I don’t see the two switching in the near future, but if McLouth doesn’t keep producing, he may be run out of the DH spot.

Who would take it you ask? That would be Alan Oaks. Oaks returns after a bit of an illness to start the season. Last year, Oaks made several starts at third base doing pretty well. Alan offers some major power and appears to be getting hot right now. This weekend he hit for a .545 clip with 2 runs and an RBI. Not bad for hitting in the 6/7/8 holes.

The other alternative to Oaks in the DH is to place him in right field, where he is a slight drop in defensive prowess. Moving him here forces Urban either to the bench, such as in Game 3, or to play third base, such as in Game 2. Urban came to Michigan as a second basemen, so he does have infield experience. I’m not sure what to expect of him at third, but it probably couldn’t be too much worse than Lorenz has been there.

Lorenz hasn’t been too poor defensively at third base, but his .895 fielding percentage does leave a little bit to be desired. He’s been our best option there so far, and I don’t think he’s done too poorly at the hot corner. The first few weekends he wasn’t really tested too much and had a couple early season mental mistakes. He’s become pretty solid there over the last 2 weekends, flashing some great leather. His hitting has been his week point, despite his performance in Game 3. From what I can see (read: my opinion), Lorenz has great potential, he just will only show flashes of it this year, and not be very consistent at the plate. He’ll be really good in a year or two.

Final Thoughts on IPFW

IPFW is a good team that will knock off a few good teams this year. They just ran into a more talented team this weekend. They should compete with Centenary and Oral Roberts for the Summit League Championship this year. I at least hope so, as with their current RPI, sweeping them didn’t help us that much with our own RPI. We have moved from 134 as of Tuesday to only 117 on Sunday morning. EMU helped even less as they are currently about 20 spots lower in RPI than IPFW.

Speaking of EMU, it’s just one game left before we start the conference season. We finish the home-and-home with EMU on Wednesday at 3pm. Right now the weather says 51 degrees and a 40% chance of rain. We’ll see if the game isn’t bumped up earlier in the week or if they try to play it then.

Posted under Baseball

IPFW Saturday Reactions

Didn’t get the preview out this weekend due to being a bit busy. I’ll throw this up here as a reactions post for comments, etc. I’ll have a full recap on Monday.  Don’t forget (as if you could) about the OU game tonight at 5:50pm.  Tim’s preview can be found here.

Game 1

The home opener was a close game. Chris Fetter didn’t have his A game, but his B game was enough to keep IPFW at bay. His control wasn’t at peak form in the game as he had a pretty high ball to strike ratio. I don’t have the specific numbers as I spent the first half of the game trying to get my stat software set up. Fetter does address this in the video below though.

On offense, Dufek has really started to light it up. He went 2-4 this game with a big 2 RBI double. Alan Oaks also broke his cold streak with a home run to just past the Blue Monster in right. We only left 7 runners on base, which is still a shade higher than I’d like to see (I consider <= 5 to be a pretty good day). The unfortunate part was stranding runners at 2nd and 3rd in both the 4th and 6th innings. The 4th hurt a little worse as we had it with only one out, but still couldn’t muster a run.

One minor note, we have our new radio announcers for the home schedule.  The guys had a rough go around on the first try, but they sounded much better after the second game.  They totally redeemed themselves with this though: Video Highlights from mgoblue.com.  This is the first time I can say I’ve noticed these being put up, which excites me plenty.  I’d embed it, but I’m having some problems with that.  Either way, thanks to the announcers for references to the site.  We appreciate your work as well.

Game 2

The best news is a win is a win. Even in this game that was fairly uneventful to the average fan, there were a couple points worth noting.

Katzman struggled pretty bad for striking out 10 batters. It wasn’t that he wasn’t making good pitches, but he just wasn’t being “economical” with his pitch count. Eric threw at least 5 pitches to 13 of the 23 batters he faced. His breaking balls just weren’t getting close enough to the zone. I do like the idea of being “effectively wild” to keep batters off balance, but I also think there is a limit on how many extra pitches can be afforded. This balance is what has plagued Katzman on his off days. He tends to walk or hit more batters, causing bigger problems. So while we see the benefits of the wildness today, keep in mind that its high risk/high reward. Despite the final line from Katzman, I’d just call this a really good game, but not a great one.

Matt Miller on the other hand did a better job of getting ahead of hitters and putting them away. His 5 strikeouts, as described by the radio broadcasters, were the product of painting both sides of the plate and general changing of location. Batters were left guessing which side of the plate the ball would be coming, and then flailed wildly at the hard sliders. Great job by Matt.

The offense managed to score three runs in the first from a LaMarre sacrifice fly and Mike Dufek two run homerun. Alan Oaks also generated offense in the second inning. After singling, he stole second, but with a throwing error on the catcher, was able to advance to third. Toth then suicide squeezed him in with a bunt down the first baseline. The pitcher Herrold had no choice but to go to first base.

After that, the offense managed to shoot itself in the foot inning after inning. Each inning from the third to the eighth, Michigan managed only three batters each inning. In the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th, the Wolverines managed to get a base runner on; each inning that runner was put out. Alan Oaks grounded into two inning ending double plays. Jake McLouth lined back to the pitcher which caught Ryan LaMarre off guard at first leading to him being double up. In the 6th, Kenny Fellows was caught leaning on a pick off play. It was pretty ugly.

The IPFW pitcher Herrold was both effective and lucky. Every inning he found an out, allowing him to stay in the game. He ended with 8 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts. All-in-all, a really good outing against us.

After two close games, I really think IPFW is just having tough luck with the RPI. Their team is at least as good as any of the BigEast teams we’ve played this year, and I fully expect them to make some headlines with some Mid Week games later in the season. They’ll knock off a couple more Big10 teams here and there.

Game 3

The first home series wraps up tomorrow at 1:05pm. Make it out to see Mike Wilson (supposedly) make his first start of the year. Pray he throws like Mike Wilson circa 2007.

Posted under Baseball

Preview: Arizona

Times have been adjusted as I thought it was Mountain Time, not Mountain Standard Time, which is currently Pacific Daylight Time. Arizona doesn’t use daylight savings time. Ridiculous.

Arizona

from arizona.edu

10pm Friday, 7pm Saturday, 2pm Saturday (all EDT)
Jerry Kindall Field
Tuscon, AZ

Media Game 1: Live Stats, Audio, and Video ($*)
Probable Starters Game 1: Chris Fetter (2-0)
Media Game 2: Live Stats, Audio, and Video
Probable Starters Game 2: Eric Katzman (2-1)
Media Game 3: Live Stats, Audio, and Video
Probable Starters Game 3: Travis Smith (2-1)
Series:  Arizona leads 42-12
Last Meeting:  Michigan 3, Arizona 4, 2008 Regional in Ann Arbor

*Video requires at least paying a $9.95 monthly subscription for buy it — as it is automatically renewed each month.  It also requires you to download Microsoft Silverlight 2.0.  I really wish Michigan would expand its sports coverage to this level.

Overview

The Arizona Wildcats are a middle of the road Pac10 team, picked to finish 5th by the coaches, with a current record of 8-7 including a three game sweep by #9 Georgia and a 2 game sweep by #11 Oklahoma State.  Those two sweeps are why they still sit so high in RPI (#61) despite the record.  The Wildcats haven’t really played anyone I would say that compares closely to Michigan.  Most teams they have played are either top 15 or bottom 150.

Offense

Unlike many of the teams Michigan has faced so far, Arizona doesn’t have that one guy that makes the offense click.  They, instead, use a combined team effort to produce runs.   They currently have 9 batters of the 13 players seeing regular playing time with batting averages over .300.  Due to the inconsistency in the lineup, I’m not sure what to expect going into the weekend.

I imagine second basemen Rafa Valenzuela will keep his lead off role this weekend.  He is leading the team in hitting at .378, but he’s only started in 10 of the 15 games so far.  He’s not much of a threat on the bases, currently 2/3 on stolen base attempts.

The current RBI leader for the Wildcats is third basemen Jett Bandy with 15.  Bandy has played in 14 of Arizona’s 15 games, batting anywhere from 3rd to 6th.  He’s only batting .296, but he also leads the team in doubles with eight.

At the bottom of the order, Bryce Ortega has provided consistency at shortstop in his 14 starts.  Ortega has hit .327 with a team high 17 runs scored.  He’s second on the team with 13 RBIs.

Bobby Coyle is the only player to start every game this season.  The centerfielder is only batting .284 with 10 RBIs and 12 runs scored.

Pitching

Starting pitching has been a real weakness for the Wildcats this year.  I can’t make heads or tails of their rotation so far, and the Arizona website hasn’t announced probable starters yet either.  Last week saw their coach try two new starters, neither of which did particularly well against #11 Oklahoma State.

Coming into the season, Arizona was looking to set up the rotation around three pitchers, Preston Guilment, Matt Veltmann, and Donn Roach.  So far on the season, they have a combined record of 3-5 and 6.30 ERA.  Guilmet has had the best success of the three, going 16 innings in 3 starts, posting a 1-1 record and 5.76 ERA.  He also sports a 7:15 walk-to-strikeout ratio.  The other two are averaging just over 3 innings per start.

Freshman Kyle Simon also made three starts for the Wildcats.  In his three starts, Simon has gone 10 2/3 innings, allowing 13 runs (9 earned), on 17 hits and 5 strike outs.  He also had a long relief appearance against Georgia, going 4 innings giving up 8 hits and 3 runs.  His ERA currently sits around 6.75.

Relief pitching has been used early and often this season for Arizona.  Cody Burns, a right handed senior, has already made 12 appearances this season.  His numbers haven’t been the best this season, giving up 8 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings pitched with 8 walks and 21 strike outs.  His overall appearances have been hampered by poor fielding to the tune of 6 unearned runs.

Jason Stoffel has been the bright spot in the bullpen.  As their closer, he has seen work in 9 games, striking out 22 in 16 innings.  He has three saves on the season, and has been impressive in each outing.  His 1.60 ERA is by far the best on the team.

Outlook

I think Michigan may be able to win 2 of 3 in this series, which should really help with the RPI.  The game I’m least optimistic about is the Eric Katzman start.  I’m not saying I expect us to lose, but its the game I’m least certain about.  Chris Fetter should be his normal self and I’m really liking what I’m seeing from Travis Smith lately.  The bullpen will be well rested as we didn’t have a midweek game.

It will be interesting to see who catches most of the games in this series.  As it stands, Berset is currently listed as fourth on the depth chart at catcher.  I can’t say I saw that coming, but with the emergence of Coley Crank and Jake McLouth as offensive forces, and Timmy Kalcynzski’s leadership, Berset has seen himself drop from solid starter to 4th string in a matter of weeks. Chris Berset remains out with a broken thumb (as pointed out by JJ in the comments).  Crank hit extremely well last week, McLouth could make an appearance there, or team captain Timmy Kalczynski, who is listed as probable starter in the weekly release may be used.  [updated after comment made by JJ]

Other Note

Saturday is “Club Arizona Kid’s Day” which sounds violent, but is actually a pretty good deal for any person under the age of 18, as tickets are $1 and other activities are held throughout the ball park.

Posted under Baseball

Baseball (Last) Weekend Update

Reminder, Tim’s basketball preview can be found below.

Sorry for the prolonged absence right as things got started, but sometimes real life just jumps in the way. As for the baseball team, they continued without me, to a rather successful weekend.  I’ll get the game recaps out of the way first, then get a couple of the usual mid week updates out of the way as well.

Michigan 11, Siena 3
Box Score
W -Chris Fetter (2-0) L – Chaput (1-1)

The first game didn’t start so well: Chris Fetter’s second pitch of the game went well over Kenny Fellow’s head in left, out of the park, placing Siena up 1-0. He then gave up a walk and a single with no outs, but a strike out and 4-6-3 double play ended the rally. Despite this early scare, Fetter ended the game with 7 innings pitched, 11 strike outs, and one walk. He gave up 6 hits, two of them were solo home runs. Those two home runs would be all the runs Fetter would give up. Brandon Sinnery would close out the last two innings, giving up 1 run on two hits, one walk, and two strike outs. Great day for Michigan pitching.

Offense didn’t disappoint either. Michigan belted three home runs on the day from Nick Urban, Justin Lorenz, and Alan Oaks. The homeruns for Urban and Lorenz were their first career home runs for Michigan. It was good to see Lorenz make some noise; he was only hitting .125 coming into the weekend, with both previous hits coming in one game. Oaks made the most of his first pinch hitting appearance of the season after returning from illness, knocking a 2-run homer.

I won’t go too much into the hitting, as every hitter in this game had at least one hit. Five starters had more than one hit. One defensive note, Nick Urban had one hell of a diving catch in right field to start the second inning. He made a catch at full extension catch on a low fly ball. I love the defense, so props to Urban. It would have made Web Gems.

Notable Stars

  • Chris Fetter – 7 IP, 2 ER, 11K, BB
  • Nick Urban – 2/4 3 RBI, 2 Rs, HR, web gem
  • Tim Kalczynski – 2/4 2 Rs

Notable Goats

  • um…? Ryan LaMarre was the only player without a run or RBI? Yeah, I got nothing.

Michigan 13, Siena 3
Box Score
W – Eric Katzman (2-1) L – Hartman (0-3)

As Other Chris pointed out in her tweet, no radio for this game, just stats. Looking at the play-by-play, Katzman looked pretty shaky in this game, but managed to avoid much more damage. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing at this point. As I mentioned in a previous comment, I didn’t really expect Katzman to repeat his week 1 performance very often. He’s still working on becoming a guy who can go more than 5 innings, it just hasn’t happened yet.

This game was no different as Siena was on base early and often. The Saints left 8 on base during Katzman’s 5 2/3 innings of work. That’s not something we want to see. Neither is a run scoring wild pitch from Katzman. You really have to hope Eric holds up over the season. This is by far the most pitching he’s done in a season since at least high school.

The bullpen did pretty well. Burgoon got Katzman out of the 6th inning, stranding one of Katzman’s baserunners. He worked a pretty quick 7th inning, but did give up a solo home run. Matt Gerbe finished the game with 2 shutout innings.

Offense is what won this game for us. Ryan LaMarre is a beast. Ryan went 3 for 4 in this game with 2 home runs, 4 RBIs, and 3 runs. He even stole a base. By himself, Ryan LaMarre outscored the entire Siena team; that’s a great feeling. Mike Dufek also poured on the offense, going 2 for 4 with a home run, a double, 2 runs, and 2 RBIs.

A big positive from this game was production from the bottom of the order. Coley Crank made the best of his spot start at catcher, going 3 for 3 with 2 RBIs. John Lorenz registered his first single of the year (actually two of them) in a 2 for 4 performance with a run scored. Toth, still in the 9-hole, finished 1 for 4 with a run and an RBI.

Notable Stars

  • Ryan LaMarre – 3/4 4 RBIs, 3 Rs, BB, SB,
  • Mike Dufek – 2/4 2 RBIs, 2 Rs, BB
  • Kevin Cislo – 2/5 RBI, 2 Rs
  • Eric Katzman – 5 2/3 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 7 K, 1 BB

Notable Goats

  • Justin Lorenz – Error leading to a run
  • Eric Katzman – baserunners a plenty and a wild pitch for a run

Michigan 19, Siena 6
Box Score
W – Travis Smith (2-1) L – Sohl (0-2)

The offense that caught fire in the middle innings of the first game of the double header continued on in game 2. Michigan logged 19 runs on 20 hits, including 4 doubles and 3 home runs. Thirteen different Wolverines logged a hit in the game. The only player in the game not to was Tim Kalczynski, who only batted once. He along with Fellows were the only players in the game not to score a run. It was an all around whooping.

Ryan LaMarre lead the team with 4 RBIs coming off of a fielder’s choice and a three run homer. Cislo, Crank, and Oaks each had three runs scored a piece. Crank lead the team with three hits, giving him 6 total in the double header. Along with the previously mentioned LaMarre, home run, both Mike Dufek and Garrett Stephens also collected home runs.

We knocked the Siena bull pen around until it exploded. Eight different pitchers were thrown against us, two of which didn’t even record an out. Only one pitcher managed to not give up a run.

Michigan’s pitching, on the other hand, was quite solid. Travis Smith put in 6 strong innings of work, giving up only 2 earned runs (and 1 unearned). He also struck out 8 while only giving up 4 hits and 2 walks. I’ll take that kind of start every week. It will be interesting to see if he moves up to the game 2 starter or if Coach Maloney will leave the right/left/right handed rotation.

Matt Miller and Jeff DeCarlo threw the last 3 innings. Miller looked good but had an unearned run scored upon him. DeCarlo continued to look shaky, but at least he didn’t hit anybody this time out. He did give up 2 earned runs (one unearned).

Speaking of all of these unearned runs, what was up with the defense? I’m not just talking about this game, but the last few. We’ve given up 10 unearned runs in the last two weekends (7 games). That’s not very good. Our team percentage of .963 isn’t too bad, but our opponents are definitely making us pay for our mistakes. I’ll probably take a look at our opponents’ fielding percentage and earned vs unearned runs scored in my next Stat Watch.

Notable Stars

  • You Pick’em, you’re probably right.

Notable Goats

  • McLouth & Lorenz errors lead to unearned runs

POTW Honors

Ryan LaMarre picked up Big10 Player of the Week (shared with Illinois’s Aaron Johnson) honors for his weekend performance. His weekend totals:

H/AB OB% SLG% RBI R HR BB K
6/12 .571 1.250 8 4 3 2 2

And he had an outfield assist. Ryan LaMarre is a beast.

BigTen Hardball All Weekend Team

Dufek, LaMarre, Crank, Fetter all make the list. The team this week was a bit lengthy. Too many players are playing too well right now. Illinois makes a lot of noise on the list as they took 2 of 3 from #1 LSU in Baton Rouge.

Poll Watching

Poll Current LW
RPI 106 TBA
NCBWA 25 28
Collegiate Baseball 28 28
BaseballAmerica NR NR
Ping!Baseball NR NR
Rivals NR NR
USA Today/ESPN 28* 32*

*in also receiving votes

Illinois also jumped us in the NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball polls after taking 2 of 3 from previous #1 LSU. RPI is now available through Boyd’s World. We’re pretty low and for good reason, we haven’t played many good teams yet. Ohio State and Illinois both sit in the top 20, at #15 and #16 respectively. They both have had impressive games against good opponents this season. The best team we’ve played so far is Jacksonville at #64, who we split a double header with. Arizona, this weekend’s opponent is currently #61.

Programming Schedule

Next post will probably be the Arizona preview. I hope to get it out by tomorrow night, but I’ve got 4 games to umpire tomorrow. We’ll see if I can get it in before Friday morning.

Posted under Baseball

Preview: Jacksonville

Three Four things before I start the preview:

  1. I’ve got way too much work this week, cutting into my preview time for the weekend.
  2. Jacksonville’s website wasn’t very conducive for digging up information. So some areas are kind of light.
  3. As mentioned in a comment, it’s the Minute Maid College Classic in Houston this weekend, so I’m going to be at Minute Maid Park watching 5 top 10 teams (and UHouston) face off in the tournament of DEATH! Blood sport style. Posting will be light and I may or may not get the Akron Preview done.
  4. ARGH! Play better! [updated 10am]

Enjoy the weekend.

Image from
jacksonvilledolphinsfans

@Jacksonville, Doubleheader
3:30 & 6 pm – February 28, 2009

John Session Stadium (Jacksonville Campus)
Jacksonville, FL
Media: Live Stats, Live Audio, and Live Video ($)
Media (Game 2): Live Stats, Live Audio, & Live Video ($)
Home Team: I believe Jacksonville will be home both games
Probable Pitchers (Game 1): Chris Fetter (0-0) vs Billy Schlee (RHP, 0-1)
Probable Pitchers (Game 2): Eric Katzman (0-0) vs Carson Andrew ( , 1-0)
Michigan Record vs Opponent: 0-1
Last Series/Game: 9-2 L @ Jacksonville on 2/29/2000

Overview

Jacksonville is another middle of the road Atlantic Sun (woo they have pay per view for baseball!) team much like UNF during the midweek game. Jacksonville was picked to finish 5th in conference by the preseason coaches’ poll. They were 27-29 last year finishing with an RPI of 134. In conference, the Dolphins were 13-20, good for 10th of 11.

This year Jacksonville started the season with a three game series at Florida International. The Dolphins emerged 1-2 after the series, losing the opening two games by scores of 4-3 and 20-1. They did managed to pull out the last game however, by a score of 9-3. Florida International isn’t that good of a team for those wondering (finished 158 last year).

Offensive Stars

The leader of the Dolphins is catcher Jeremy Gillian. Gillian is all preseason Atlantic Sun for his efforts last year, hitting .377 with 60 RBIs including 9 homeruns and 10 doubles. He also is a force behind the plate, throwing out 17 runners last year.

The second leading hitter for Jacksonville last year was second baseman Chuck Opachich. Opachich hit .323 last year, only scoring 28 runs and 18 RBIs. That seems pretty low for that batting average. This year he is the lead off man, and he’s done alright in limited playing time. He’s 2/7 with a K in 2 games, only one a start.

Hitting in the two hole will be returning left fielder Kyle Fleming who is 2/7 with a run and RBI, and 2BBs this season. Last season he hit .313 with 40 runs scored. He’s the one setting up Gillian with RBIs.

Pitching

Billy Schlee is a closer converted to starter for the Dolphins. Last season he was 0-1 with a 6.91 ERA with 6 savees. He only had 12 appearances for 14.1 innings where he gave up 17 hits and 11 runs, while striking out 11. In one relief appearance this season he went 3.2 innings, he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits, a walk, and striking out 5.

Carson Andrew was the second starter for the Dolphins a year ago, going 5-3 with a 4.61 ERA (2nd on team). In 18 appearances (11 starts) he logged 70.1 innings while giving up 53 runs (36 earned, which tells you about their fielding last year). Andrew did collect 7.67 K’s-per-9-innings which is respectable, and only walked 26. That’s pretty solid for college starters.

This year Andrew had the start in the team’s only win. He lasted 4 innings giving up 4 hits and 2 runs. He walked 2 and struck out 3 in the win. His statistics appear to point to him not lasting long into games (only about 5 innings per start).

There isn’t enough information about the relievers, and the 20-1 loss last week has all their numbers looking pretty poorly.

Semi-Relavant Reading

Got nothin’.

Posted under Baseball