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BENEDICT SEEKS SOLID' KEYSTON]
NEW on SOUTH U?
By BILL STIEG
With opening day only a week
away, one detail of Michigan's
baseball team is yet unsettled:
Graduation and professional
contracts wiped out the Wolver-
ines' "super" infield of 1973.
So now, coach Moby Benedict
has several days left to select
and. consolidate a starting in-
field from seven different candi-
Luckily, the rest of the team is
pretty well set, with a steady
outfield, strong pitching, a n d
excellent catching. But the in-
field remains a. mystery.
THE ONLY position that is
definitely decided on is first b ise..
Pete Ross, a senior pitcher who
batted only nine times last year,
will try to fill the shoes of Pat
Sullivan, who graduated.
Benedict thinks Sulivan w a s
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"as fine a first basem
you'd ever want to have
adds, "Ross has filled ti
nicely. He's brand new
but he did the job in Flo
Ross hit .276 and handl
fielding chances flawlessll
ing the team's spring brea
"Occasionally I'll use
ing catcher) John Lonch
first," mentioned Be
"which puts Ted Mahan at
er. Mahan needs defensive
- like all freshmen -
when he picks up that b
goes to rippin'!" Indeed,1
does. On the Florida tri
pleasant surprise from Fl
.324, including four double
a home run.
The stable, solid situat
ar. as first base contrasts sharply with
," but the chaotic status of the res: of
he bill the infield.
)rida." AT SECOND BASE, the battle
led 60 for a starting role is between
y dur- sophomore Dick Walterhouse and
k trip. junior Jeff James. Neither play-
(start- ed much last year. "Walterhouse
iar at seems a little stronger," stated
nedict, Benedict. "He has the e d g e
work Uncertainty reigns on the left
bu t side of the infield. A total of
at, he four players all have a shot at
Mahan starting. Last fall, the expected
p, the starters. were freshman G r e g
int hit Lane at short and senior Chris
es and Burak at third. Unfortuna ely,
Lane (son of sportcaster Ray),
ion at broke his foot just before the
Florida trip. His cast is off now,
but his workouts have been se-
verely limited to just throwing
- no infield or batting pracice.
"Yes, we were - counting on
Lane," says Benedict. "I don't
know how long he'll be out."
Lane said he hopes to be ready
to play in next Friday's double-
header with the Universiy tof De-
LANE'S INJURY forced Burak
to short for the spring trip.
"Shortstop is the toughest psi-
tion in baseball," claims Bene-
dict, "but Burak " has played
well for me. He had a g,) o d
spring training." Burak led the
team with a .378 average ia
With Burak moving +o short in
place of Lane, third base be-
comes open. Two p'ayers -
freshman Ed Clegg and senior
Larry GustGafson - are he prime
candidates. Gustafson, best
known as a wingback on the foot-
ball team, is trying baseball for
the first time in his four years
The disorder and uncertainty of
the infield has hurt the Wolver-
ines' teamwork. Coach Eenedict
complained, "Our double-play
combination is atrociois. When
that ball is hit on the ground,
you've got to turn it. If you're
going to be a contende", y o u
have to make the double play.
We haven't made it enough."
THE BEST BETS for Friday's
opener, then, would be Ross at
first, Walterouse at send, Lane
at'short, and Burak at third. If
Lane is not ready, thei Burak
will open at short and Clegg at
As a team, the Florida trip pro-
duced a .234 batting average, a
3.51 ERA, and a .930 fielding
"But statistics are for losers,"
asserts Benedict. "The only sta-
tistic that counts is the won-
lost record." In that category,
the Wolverines were 3-4 against
college clubs, along wi-h a pair
of losses and a tie with Detroit
Greg Buss, who missed I a s t
season with a knee injury and
has been slowed up by knee sur-
gery and a hamstring pull, is a
questionable starter in left field
alongside Dan Damiani and
Mike DeCou. Freshman M.a r k
Grenkowski impressed Benedict
with a good spring and may
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MARCH 31, 174
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