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Baseball Seniors Roundtable

The six seniors on the Michigan Baseball team had a round table discussion reflecting on their time here in Ann Arbor recently, and it was posted today on MGoBlue.  Some quality stuff came from all six: Ben Jenzen, Timmy Kal, Mike Wilson, Kevin Cislo, Kenny Fellows, and Chris Fetter.  They covered topics from greatest memories, to how injuries changed their season, to their thoughts on Coach Maloney, to momentos from the lockerroom, and finally, to legacy.  It’s a great read.  I’ll just quote the humor here, but the whole thing is worth the read.

On what they would take from “The Fish” as a memento…

Cislo: “This plasma TV” (laughter)

Kalczynski: “I would take my locker. I have had some of the best conversations with my teammates at this locker and that is something I would love to have.”

Wilson: “I want one of these couches (large blue leather couch with a M logo embroidered in the middle cushion)… these things are so comfortable.”

Jenzen: “I would either take the ping pong table or Kim (athletic trainer Kim Hill).” … (loud laughter)

Go read it now. Make it out to the last BigTen weekend series of these Michigan Men™. Go Blue.

Side note:  I guess this means Ben Jenzen won’t be returning after a medical redshirt season.  Bummer, he was a great pitcher.

Posted under Baseball

Michigan Takes One At Ohio State

But it loses 3?

After dropping the first two games of the series on Saturday, Michigan managed to salvage a victory on Sunday. Eric Katzman got the win with 5 innings of sketchy work, and Alan Oaks got the ridiculous 4 inning save. I say ridiculous because save rules allow there to be saves over two innings or more than 3 runs.

Katzman was a bit shaky in this game, throwing a ton of pitches and allowing baserunners in each of his 5 innings of work. He allowed 4 hits, 3 walks, hit a batter (with the bases loaded), but he only allowed one run. He struck out 5 and stranded 8 runners. Three of those runners came in the 5th inning when “Evil Katzman” entered the game. After a quick out, Katzman gave up a double, single, walk, and hit batsman to give up the run. After a quick conference with Coach Maloney, Katzman struck out his final batter of the day.

Alan Oaks entered the game in the 6th and gave up a run on back to back hits. Ohio State managed a run, but OSU left fielder made a base running blunder trying to stretch a double into a triple and making the last out at third base. For those of you less into baseball, that’s a huge huge mistake. Instead of having a runner in scoring position, you lose any shot at adding more runs that inning. Honestly, when I saw that, the first thing I said was, “That’s a Michigan mistake.” It’s the kind of poor base running I’ve grown accustom to lately. That play ended up being the turning point in the game as OSU lost the momentum and would never regain it.

Oaks finished the game with 4 innings pitched with 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks and a strikeout. Very solid game and it may get him another shot at starting in the next two weeks. With the Burgoon start going less than stellar on Saturday, the third slot is still anyone’s to take, even this late in the season.

Offensively, everything was clicking for the Wolverines. All those line drives up the middle fell just outside of the reach of the OSU middle infielders. Soft fly balls to the gaps were just out of range of the outfielders. It was the exact opposite of game 1. You could just tell in the first inning when we collected a pair of infield singles that things were different in this game. Lady luck was on our side.

Mike Dufek and Jake McLouth were the big run producers on the day. Dufek went 3/5 with a double, 3 RBI, and a run. McLouth went 2/3 with 2 RBI. Both came through with the timely hits when we needed them, something we haven’t seen since the first few weeks of the season.

Anthony Toth and Ryan LaMarre were the run scorers. Toth scored three times despite only getting one hit in the game. LaMarre went 2/4 with a pair of singles and 2 runs scored. I really like what I saw of LaMarre’s bat this weekend. He hit a couple of balls hard in the no hitter but was robbed by the middle infielders. In game 3 he was driving liners to the opposite field, a sign of seeing the ball well. LaMarre also stole two bases in the game. You could tell the Buckeyes’ catcher Forsythe was struggling with the pitchers and with base runners in general. He was only in the game because normal starter Burkhart left Saturday’s game 2 with an undisclosed leg injury. While I’m glad Michigan could take advantage of the replacement starter, here’s hoping Burkhart’s alright.

Timmy Kal also had an excellent game, going 2/5 with a pair of doubles getting the spot start at third base. He also made an excellent defensive play at third base.

The loss in the series doesn’t set us back that much.  In the Half Way Home post I did two weeks ago, I thought we’d just win one game as well.  The problem growing there is how good MSU is finishing and how Purdue closes out their schedule.   It could be close on earning a 6 seed in the BTT.  More on that later in the week though.

Cislo Out

Not only did we lose two games, we also lost something a little more important. News came through via The Daily yesterday on the mysterious absence of Kevin Cislo from games 2 and 3 of the OSU series:

“I don’t know if he’ll be able to play at all (this season),” Maloney said. “I don’t know if he’s out for the year, but he’s definitely out.”

Mark it down as a bum shoulder for now. This injury is really bad. We lose our leader on the infield and one of our better hitters. We’ll see if Kevin may make a return by the BigTen tournament, but at this point I would imagine he’s done. Here’s hoping for a good recovery.

Also, I’m not much for fluff articles, but here’s a recent one on Kevin from The Ann Arbor News.

Mid Week Matchup

This week is a home and home series with Western Michigan. Tuesday is at Kalamazoo at 3:05pm, with Wednesday being at the Fish (6:35pm).

Posted under Baseball

Weekend Recap: Illinois

This weekend saw Michigan face Illinois at the Fish.  Michigan managed to win only the first game by the grace of the all powerful Chris Fetter… and some guys on offense.  Also, big thanks to all the fans who showed up this weekend.  The spring game overflowed to the baseball field, getting a total of 3871 for the three games this weekend.  As Kartje at the Daily described it on Saturday:

The crowd is nuts here thanks to Spring Game overflow.  You’d think Tate Forcier was making a special appearance in the 7th inning stretch.

And on to the recap.

Game 1

Box Score R H E
Illinois 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 1
Michigan 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 x 4 9 0

W – Chris Fetter (5-1)   L – Haig (3-2)   Sv – None

BTN Coverage (hopefully embedding this works):

If the embed doesn’t work for you, visit the BTN.com highlight here.  I didn’t catch the game, but just judging by the post game wrap up, I doubt I could have put up with either of these guys calling a game.  People thing Joe Morgan is bad…

The story of this game was Chris Fetter. In his second complete game of the year, Chris struck out 13 batters (about half the outs in the game), including 7 hitters that went down looking. Fetter was economical with most hitters, only throwing 136 pitches (the exact same number as his last complete game against Penn State). He only allowed 6 hits and two walks. Great game overall. Something I’m interested to keep an eye on is how these back to back complete games affect his pitching down the stretch. Fetter has been quoted by the WBCN crew during the IPFW series that he is shooting for only 120 pitches per game. I can’t blame Maloney for letting the kid get his complete game wins, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Fetter left some games sooner just to protect his arm.

On offense, we scraped to get the runs we did. In the second inning, we managed to avoid a fielder’s choice by utilizing the hit and run, we (unofficially) sacrifice flied a runner from second to third, and got the timely singles to score 2 runs. For the go ahead run in the 7th, we used the sacrifice fly to plate the run.

The positive on offense was sticking to single digit strikeouts and getting baserunners on every inning. The bad was we left runners on base every inning as well, including 4 in scoring position. If there ever was an inning to describe Michigan’s season it has to be the 6th:

Michigan 6th – Toth doubled down the lf line (0-0). Lorenz out at first 1b to 2b, SAC, bunt (0-0); Toth advanced to third. Kalczynski struck out swinging (0-2 FFS). Cislo struck out swinging (2-2 KBBSS). 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

We get pressure on the other teams early then fade down the stretch. The metaphor works for the season as well. We come out with power, but the power fades as we go along. Sigh…

Notable Stars

  • Chris Fetter – CG, W, 6 H, 13 K, 2 BB, 2 ER
  • Anthony Toth – 2/4 2 R, 3B, 2B
  • Ryan LaMarre – 0/0 R, 4 BB (in 4 at bats, he saw 26 pitches, impressive)
  • Fan Attendance: 1056… best this year.

Notable Goats

  • This was solid game… everyone gets off the hook

Other Notes

  • Other Chris’s daughter caught a fly ball in the Michigan win, quoted to have said this: “This is one of the best days of my life! And if Michigan wins, it will move into the top ten.”
  • CollegeBaseballToday.com – Chris gets an Honorable Mention in the Big10 Pitchers segment…”When Chris Fetter is on the mound, Michigan becomes one of the best teams in the nation. But beyond him?…”
  • The Daily – Liveblog Redacted. If I find where it went I’ll relink it here. Update: now linked.
  • SID Release – Coach Maloney Moves Toth up to 7th in the order: “He was huge for us today. I moved him up in the order to try to keep what we consider our seven best hitters in a row, and he really came through big for us tonight.” This appears to be an attempt to limit the LOB in the middle of the order.

Game 2

Box Score R H E
Illinois 0 0 0 3 2 5 0 0 0 10 9 3
Michigan 3 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 8 13 2

W – Zerrusen (2-0) L – Kolby Wood (0-1) Sv – Strack (1)

So remember when I said this:

Katzman has done well lately, but that just means he’s due for a less than stellar start as well.

That happened. While Katzman didn’t have a horrible start, he certainly didn’t have the same stuff he’d had the last two weeks. He worked into a little trouble in the first with back to back singles to open the frame, but managed to eek his way out. He wasn’t so lucky in the fourth inning. Katzman loaded the bases to start the inning (sac bunt in the middle of that). He then hit a batter to force in a run, followed by a 2 RBI single from Bonadonna.

Kolby Wood would enter in relief of Katzman and get a quick out to stop the bleeding. In Wood’s first full inning of work, things started off shaky with a fielding error by Anthony Toth. With two outs and a runner on third (the one to reach on the error), Wood gave up a two run home run (both runs unearned). The next inning started similarly, but this time with a throwing error by John Lorenz. Wood then gave up back to back hits, scoring a pair of runs (one unearned). Miller would relieve him but struggled as well giving up a walk, back-to-back doubles, and a single before striking out the next two batters in the inning. This would put the Illini up 10-6, and their offense went into cruise control to the finish.

The offense was surprisingly good in this game, knocking out the Big10′s top pitcher after just one inning. Ben Reeser, the Illinois starter managed just 1 inning with 3 hits, 3 runs, and a walk. Coley Crank was the only starter without a hit, but 5 starters (Cislo, Fellows, LaMarre, Oaks, Toth) had two a piece.

If you were to tell me Michigan was going to score 8 runs on 13 hits while only stranding 8 and striking out 7 times, I’d feel pretty good about that game. Unfortunately the pitching didn’t hold us in the game. The Illini hit the big inning in the 6th; it was too much to recover from.

Notable Stars

  • Ryan LaMarre – 2/3 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 SACF, 2B
  • Kevin Cislo – 2/3 2 R, 2 BB, SB, 2B
  • Alan Oaks – 2/5 Solo-HR
  • Anthony Toth – 2/4 BB
  • Kenny Fellows – 2/4 R, 2B, SACB
  • Mike Dufek – 1/5 2B (off the top of the Brick Monster to steal a HR)
  • Attendance – Woo Spring Game crowd: 1942!
  • Coach Maloney – Ejected (see the note below)

Notable Goats

  • Toth & Lorenz – The errors to lead off the 5th and 6th innings lead to 3 unearned runs… more than the difference in the game.

Other Notes

  • Maloney was ejected in the 6th inning arguing on behalf of Kevin Cislo. There was a close safe call made at second base and the crowd didn’t like it, Cislo didn’t like it, Maloney didn’t like it. He made his way out to the umpire (I believe it was veteran umpire Bruce Doane) to make his case. According to Daily staff writer Ryan Kartje, he went “all “Lou Piniella” on the ump to waves of support from the crowd. No dirt kicking as of yet. But regardless, Maloney gets tossed from the game and the crowd loves it.” I like the move by Maloney to go for the ejection. Sometimes it can light a fire under the team. It didn’t work this time, but hey, sometimes you’ve just got to do that as a manager.
  • Daily Live Blog – as linked above in the Maloney note, Kartje live blogged the game. I really like this from the Daily. It definitely supplements the box scores really well.

Game 3

Box Score R H E
Illinois 0 3 0 2 0 0 1 4 1 11 19 0
Michigan 2 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 5 10 2

W – Roberts, B (3-0) L – Alan Oaks (0-1) Sv – Martin (2).

Keeping along with our recent Sunday streak, our pitching staff struggled most of the game. This game was back and forth as the scoreboard above shows, but the key came when Alan Oaks out-stayed his welcome. After already throwing 53 pitches, a career high, he trotted out to an eighth inning he wouldn’t make it out of; he gave up 3 singles and a double to start what would be a four run inning for the Illini.

In defense of Oaks, he pitched very well in the 4 innings leading up to this point, giving up just one unearned run in 4 innings of relief of Travis Smith. Speaking of Smith, his start was disappointing as well. He gave up the first 5 runs (4 earned) to the Illini in just over 3 innings of work. We really need someone to step up and earn this starting spot, whether it be Smith, Wilson, Sinnery, Vangheluwe, Wood, or someone new.

Speaking of Wilson and Sinnery, they closed the game out fairly well, throwing 2 innings while giving up only one unearned run.

Offense was top heavy – top of the lineup that is. Fellows, LaMarre, and Dufek each had a pair of hits including a homer and double by Dufek – the only extra base hits of the game. Dufek’s two hits drove in all four Wolverine RBIs in the game, and his grounded into double play also drove. Toth, Lorenz, and Kalczynski each added a hit a piece from the bottom of the lineup, but lead to no runs scored or driven in.

Notable Stars

  • Mike Dufek – 2/4 4 RBI, R, HR, 2B
  • Ryan LaMarre – 2/3 2 R
  • Kenny Fellows – 2/3 R, BB
  • Attendance – 873

Notable Goats

  • Alan Oaks (at bat) – 0/4 3 Ks, 1 LOB
  • DH/PH (Crank, Urban, & Kittle) – 0/4 K
  • Fellows & Lorenz – Errors leading to a pair of unearned runs

Other Notes

  • The Daily – Relief pitching dooms M. I respectfully disagree. Timely hitting mixed in with a lack of consistency from the bullpen and the defense behind them. There were quite a few errors to start innings for bullpen pitchers.
  • The Daily – Live Blog Game 3 is more good stuff. I love how the only comment is by “S. Toth” appealing Kartje’s notion that the team doesn’t turn too many double plays. While we may not be the Big10 leaders, we do turn our fair share of them (.82 per game as of 4/5/09)
  • Daily Illini – Haig’s start was disappointing as Fetter was great, but the Illini won the weekend series
  • Illinois Baseball Report – Dittman carries Illini this weekend

Wrap Up

While losing 2 of 3 is never a great thing, I don’t think this was too bad of a weekend for the team. Illinois is one of the better teams in the conference this season, especially in the pitching department. There were a few lapses though, especially on defense. After the great effort in game one, we had two errors in each of the last two games leading to four unearned runs. We’ve got to cut those down.

After this weekend’s action, Michigan is now 7th (tied with PSU, but Nittany Lions have the tie breaker) in the Big10 at 4-4. Only the top 6 teams make the BTT, so we’ve got some ground to make up. That starts this weekend with Michigan State. We play in East Lansing at their new ball park on Friday and Sunday, but play the middle game of the series at the Fish. All indications are that Michigan should sweep the Spartans, but they have a pitcher in Nolan Moody who poses quite a challenge.

As for the mid week, we face Toledo on Tuesday and have the rubber match with EMU in Ann Arbor on Wednesday. Toledo could be a challenge, but I don’t expect much from their mid week starter. As for EMU, we’ve already seen what they can do. I can’t see our guys taking the same “oh, its just EMU” mindset as last time.embed>

Posted under Baseball

MidWeek Closeout: Central Michigan

Now that I’ve let the nerves and stomach settle from the initial reactions to the awful box score, I’ll actually comment on Wednesday night’s game against CMU. For those of you who couldn’t pick up from the first sentence of this paragraph, or even my ambiguous post about softball, the Michigan baseball team lost in embarrassing fashion to Central Michigan on Wednesday – 10-2 the final score.

The game featured 7 Wolverine pitchers making a trip to the mound. Coach Maloney was seeking some sort of spark from the starting rotation and started freshman Kevin Vangheluwe, but, as many other things with Michigan baseball lately, when it rains it pours, completely dousing any chance of a spark to happen. Kevin couldn’t make it out of the second inning, giving up 4 runs while only recording 2 outs.

Things never got much better after that. Wilson gave up a run in 1.1 innings, Matt Miller gave up 2 runs (1 earned), and Brandon Sinnery gave up 3 runs in 0.1 innings. The good news is Travis Smith looked good in the short 1.1 inning appearance, as did Kolby Wood and Alan Oaks throwing a perfect 2.2 innings to finish the game.

Defense wasn’t much prettier. Along with a throwing error on a double play chance by Toth and a throwing error on a bunt single by Lorenz, there were several reported brain lapses on the field. Nick Urban was pulled from third base after failing to cover third base, allowing a pair of runners to advance. Five(!) balls hit to the outfield should have been caught but weren’t. One I give Fellows a break for as he slipped on the turf that was still wet from the snow last weekend, but the other four could – and most probably should – have been caught, including the play in this picture from Liesa Thompson at the Ann Arbor News:

That's a catch that should be made.

We didn’t do well behind the plate either. Kalczynski had his 9th passed ball of the year. He bobbled another transition on a base stealing attempt, dropping the ball. He would eventually be replaced by McLouth during the middle of that same inning during a pitching change. That pitching change? It was on an 0-2 count when Maloney pulled Sinnery. Pulling a pitcher on 0-2? What’s going on?

The offense was anemic this game. Despite Alan Oaks great outing on the mound, his plate appearances were atrocious. He went 0/4 with 2 Ks, a foul out to second base, and a 4-6-3 double play. He stranded 4 runners on base to end innings.

The 6 hits Michigan mustered came from 6 different players. Fellows, Cislo, LaMarre, Dufek, Crank, Kalczynski each had a hit-a-piece, Cislo and LaMarre’s being doubles. The team only managed multiple hits in one inning, the 8th, where they scored just one run. The run in the 9th came by walks and errors on behalf of CMU.

If you want a positive in all this, we only stranded 6 runners (would have been 2 more if not for a pair of grounded into double plays) and we only struck out 7 times… only 7 times….

In defense of some of the hitting, Coach Maloney made an attempt to stir up the lineup in this game. The starting lineup looked like this:

  • Fellows, Kenny lf
  • Toth, Anthony ss
  • Cislo, Kevin 2b
  • LaMarre, Ryan cf
  • Dufek, Mike 1b
  • Urban, Nick 3b
  • Crank, Coley dh
  • Oaks, Alan rf/p
  • Kalczynski, Tim c

Some of this makes some sense. Toth has raised his average to a point where he would look attractive in the 2-hole. Fellows is getting on base enough and has the ability to steal bases; he’s alright for a 1-hole, but not the most attractive choice. Alan Oaks dropping down makes sense with the bottom of this line up, too. Kalczynski makes sense in the 9-hole as well as he has been doing a little bit better about getting on base.

What’s Going On?

Michigan isn’t the same team its been the last few years. We lost the best team we’ve had since the CWS runs in the 80s. We have a group of 5 walk ons that lead the team. Two of them were either cut or virtually told to go elsewhere for playing time:

Coach Rich Maloney cut Kenny Fellows from the University of Michigan baseball team during his freshman-season tryout. Two years later, Maloney told Tim Kalczynski he could transfer if he wanted playing time.

We have several players playing out of their original positions. Urban was a walk-on middle infielder turned outfielder who is occasionally thrown into third base. Kalczynski was once a walk-on outfielder playing catcher and occasionally third base.

Add in our youth and inexperience, and you’ve some problems. Lorenz is a true freshman who didn’t even play his senior year of high school ball. McLouth and Crank are making the best they can of their early playing time, but neither has been that consistent. They’re freshman.

Once you start looking at the scholarship players, many of them are just in their first year of starting as well. Michigan lost Nate Recknagel, Adam Abraham, Jason Christian, Leif Mahler, and Zach Putnam this off season from the offensive starting lineup. Berset, Dufek, and LaMarre contributed a lot, but they weren’t the leaders. They will hopefully be that one day, but right now they are just sophomores and juniors.

Kevin Cislo is the player I’m looking to right now to pick up the team. Maybe this is why Coach Maloney moved him to the three hole. Put him right in the middle of everything and see what happens. Let him try and spark the team. Let him lead. The problem with this is Kevin isn’t a three hole hitter. Unlike Iowa who can throw Toole in the center of the lineup to generate offense, Michigan doesn’t have the same team build. We have power hitters, they need runners on in front of them who can move themselves into scoring position to be hit in.

Pitching isn’t much different than the offense. We don’t have experience. What experience we have in the starting staff is either very good (Fetter) or meh (Wilson). Katzman is in his first season as a starter. Smith hasn’t had a full season of starts yet and he’s just a sophomore. In relief, we don’t have that dominate guy. As much as I hoped Burgoon would be that guy, he’s not.

We’re a young team; we’re an inexperienced team. We’re a not that great team. It is what it is.

How Do We Fix It?

This is the toughest question on Maloney’s mind I’m sure. I think we have two options at this point.

1) We need an upperclassman to step up and really take over this team. He needs to call a players only meeting and say all those right things, but more importantly, he needs to back it up with his play on the field. He needs to be the enforcer, not Coach Maloney. He needs to be the one picking up guys. He needs to be the one getting on a guys case when he’s out of position.

During the preseason, and even into the first few weeks of the season, I thought Chris Berset was going to be the one to do this. I thought this was Chris’s team to take over. Maybe its the catcher in me that makes me feel this, but the catcher that runs much of the show. Sure its probably coincidence that we went from 7-2 with Berset to only 11-9 without him. I think his value to our lineup cannot be matched from Crank and Kalczynski, neither can his leadership. I’m not sure when he’s due back, but its not soon enough.

2) Our hitting coach (whether that be Maloney and Ust) has to step up his game. Something has to be done about our strikeout rate. Something has to be done about moving runners into scoring position and knocking them in.

The worst thing that can happen now is the team starts putting too much unnecessary pressure on themselves. That will just force more bad habits.  As Coach says:

“They may even be trying more than they should be trying. I don’t know. But right now it’s more psychological than it is anything else. It’s not the opponent – we are the opponent. We’re beating ourselves.”

We’ll see how we do against Illinois this weekend.  Wake up boys, its time to produce.

Posted under Baseball

Weekend Recap: Penn State

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.

Game 1

Box Score R H E
PSU 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 2 6 10 2
Michigan 2 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 4 7 1

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

Notable Stars

  • 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

Notable Goats

  • John Lorenz – Error lead to a run
  • Nick Urban – Called out on batter’s interference
  • Jake McLouth – 0/3 2 K, 3 LOB

Other Notes

  • Notes

Game 2

Box Score R H E
PSU 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 0 5 9 0
Michigan 0 0 0 0 0 2 5 2 x 9 13 3

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.

Notable Stars

  • 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

Notable Goats

  • 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

Other Notes

  • notes

Game 3

Box Score R H E
PSU 1 0 1 2 5 3 0 4 0 16 20 2
Michigan 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 5 8 3

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.

Notable Stars

  • Alan Oaks – 2/5 2B; 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, BB, K, HBP

Notable Goats

  • 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

Other Notes

  • Notes

Wrap Up

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.

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

We Have History: Iowa

The Michigan baseball team got off to Iowa on the bus sometime around noon yesterday. The Michigan Baseball tweet doesn’t sound so certain about playing, but the guys are headed there anyways:

Getting ready to board the bus for Iowa and hoping the weather man is wrong about the 2 inches of snow there Saturday!

As a last little bit of information going into the series, I’ve compiled all our current players past performances against the Hawkeyes.  The chart after the jump is listed first by Michigan Hitters, then followed by Michigan Pitchers.  The player order is by first appearance.  So for example, Cislo was the only player to appear in the 2006 series, so he shows up first on the chart.

I’m not sure if I’ll have this for each Big10 opponent, but I’ll try to get it out.  It’s time consuming to gather it information and then chart it all out.  I had planned to do the Purdue team against Michigan, but yeah… no.  Besides, who cares about them anyway?

A few of the stand outs:

  • Cislo is batting .500 for his career against the Hawkeyes with 8 runs and 14 hits in just 11 games.
  • Chris Fetter is 1-1, but has a complete game (7 innings) with 18 Ks in 19 innings.
  • Ben Jenzen is 2-0 in 3 appearances, pitching 5 innings while giving up 4 runs (only one earned).
  • Burgoon earned his first career win against the Hawkeyes in an extra inning game last year, going 2 shut out innings striking out 2.
  • As a team (just current players), we are 11-1 against the Hawkeyes.

Full Chart after the jump Read More…

Posted under Baseball

Mid Week Closeout: vs EMU

Game Recap

Box Score R H E
EMU 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 3 9 0
Michigan 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 10 1

W – Sikora (1-0) L -Brandon Sinnery (1-1)

Well, the Mid Week bug struck early, as Michigan loses to Eastern Michigan at home. Chantel Jennings at the Daily had a chance to interview Mike Dufek before the game and Coach Maloney before and after the playing, it seems the guys might have been a little too overconfident.

“We know that we are supposed to win,” [Mike Dufek] said. “It’s only a matter of us focusing and playing well.”

“I even talked to the team before the game,” Maloney said. “I said, ‘Let’s understand that anyone can knock you off.’ Maybe this will be a lesson learned for later days.”

Ouch.

by Leisa Thompson, The Ann Arbor News

by Leisa Thompson, The Ann Arbor News

I was working during the game and have had trouble getting MGoBlue’s media player to load, so straight box scoring on this one. While Michigan did out hit the Eagles in this one, we were stranding runners and getting killed on the base paths again. Michigan left 10 runners on base, and had another 4 either picked off or caught stealing. The running game had been fairly solid for us of late after a shaky start.

Sinnery didn’t have too poor of a start. Yes, he did give up the 2 run home run, but those runs were the only ones he gave up in the first 5 which is an decent start. The last run came after he was pulled in the 6th inning. With runners on first and second, EMU manufactured the run by using the sacrifice bunt two times in a row (one being a suicide squeeze). It’s a tough way to give up a run, but it happens.

On offense, we got on base quite often, but we couldn’t get anything going. Along with the base running problems mentioned earlier, we also weren’t hitting well with runners in scoring position. The team went 0/5 with runners in scoring position, and 0/3 with an RBI with a runner on third. The one RBI came from a Cislo ground out that allowed Kalcynzski to score. Poor base running and no hitting when runners are in scoring position means you have to live and die by the long ball. No extra base hits today. Death.

Notable Stars

  • Anthony Toth – 2/4
  • Bullpen (Miller/Burgoon) – 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K

Notable Goats

  • Cislo/Fellows/LaMarre/Dufek – Each left 2 runners stranded
  • Cislo/Fellows – picked off trying to steal (caught stealing)
  • Kalczynski/Urban – picked off not trying to steal

Side Note

  • Fellows moved to right field for this game, supposedly for defensive purposes as it was rather windy at the Fish yesterday. This is not expected to be a permanent move.

Extra Reading

Michigan Insider Podcast

Coach Maloney continued his Michigan Insider Podcast on WTKA. They touched a lot on the recent news of Barry Larkin and Branch Rickey entering the NCAA College Baseball Hall of Fame. Coach said they are working on improving the baseball history portrayed in the lobby of the Fish. They are working on getting more pictures and history up on the walls to show just how rich the history of the program is.

Maloney also walked through the Big10 season. He tabbed Iowa as a scrappy team that always takes games from us when we don’t expect it. The weather may be an equalizer to help them. He expects Minnesota, Ohio State, Indiana, and Illinois to all compete for the Big10 crown without anyone really running away with it. Our lack of experience may cause problems, but he’s hopeful it won’t show its ugly head too often.

Other News

Chicago MLB Wolverines

As Brian@mgoblog linked in mgo.licio.us, Chris Getz and Clayton Richards both made the Chicago White Sox roster for the season. While Brian says this should make all you Chicagoland fans White Sox fans, I will offer you Cubs fans a bone. Jake Fox is one of the first call ups for the Cubs if anyone in their outfield is injured. He won’t be starting like Getz will, but at least its something.  Also, there is some speculation that Getz’s starting is just temporary as the White Sox are preparing for a bigger prospect to take his place.  These two, and potential third, combine with J.J. Putz, ex-closer for the Mariners now with the Mets, and Rich Hill, pitcher with the Orioles, to be the four Wolverines on MLB rosters to start the season.

Hall of Fame

Going back to what was mentioned in the Michigan Insider Podcast, Michigan has two guys making the list of inductees this year. Branch Rickey was not just a great player at Michigan, but also was the general manager who brought Jackie Robinson to the major leagues to break the color barrier. His bio via the College Baseball Foundation:

Among the 2009 Hall of Fame class is one Vintage-Era inductee and the first “small school” inductee.

Branch Rickey, player and coach from Ohio Wesleyan and Michigan is the Vintage-Era inductee. The Vintage-Era designation is for those who played or coached prior to 1947.

Barry Larkin is probably the more notable inductee to most of you. Larkin was a long time staple at the Cincinnati Reds, but before that, he taking Michigan to the College World Series:

Michigan’s Barry Larkin was a two-time first-team All-American shortstop. He was the first two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and in 1983 he was the Big Ten Postseason Tournament MVP. He twice led the Wolverines to the College World Series and finished his career with a .361 batting average.

Iowa Game Time Changed

The opener to the Big10 season is Friday at Iowa. The game has been moved from 6pm to 4 pm CDT (7 to 5pm EDT). The weather looks to be windy and rainy.

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