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March 31, 1987 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1987-03-31

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4

Page 10 -The Michigan Daily -Tuesday, March 31, 1987

MICHI

ZAN

BASEBALL

1987

Midda ugh reshapes

batsmen

PITCHERS AND CATCHERS:
Armed for success

By PETE STEINERT
Michigan's 1987 baseball season
should determine just how good a
craftsman head coach Bud Middaugh
is.
Middaugh will attempt to take a
young team and shape it into a
squad that performance wise will
resemble his teams of years past.
The eighth-year coach has averaged
45 wins a season, captured five Big
Ten titles, and led the Wolverines
to four College World Series
appearances.
Last year's team won the Big
Ten title and finished with a 47-12
record. Despite its success,
however, it seems unlikely that
Middaugh will build this year's
club in the same mold. Several key
hitters have departed, leaving him
with some inexperience in the
lineup.
"You're going to have to be a
little patient I think with this
club," said Middaugh who will
settle for nothing short of
perfection. "I like this club, but
trying to find the combination and
trying to settle in there where we
can get some experience is going to
be difficult for a while."
MIDD A UG H can no longer
enjoy the luxury of hitting sluggers
Casey Close and Hal Morris in the
three-four spots in the batting order.
Close graduated, and Morris left a
year early to sign a pro contract.
Last year the two finished one-two
in the Big Ten batting race.
Close won the conference
batting championship, hitting .469.
He also set new Michigan season
marks in home runs (19) and runs
batted in (72). For his
accomplishments Baseball America
named him Collegiate Player of the
Year.
Obviously, the Wolverines will
miss players the caliber of Close
and Morris. Somehow Middaugh
must compensate for his lost
firepower, and it appears he will do
this through pitching and team
speed.
THE PITCHING staff, unlike
the rest of the team, remains
virtually intact from a year ago.
Starters Mike Ignasiak, Jim
Abbott, and Chris Lutz return along
with reliever Greg Everson.
The four combined for a 27-7
record in 1986 on a staff that
finished second in the conference in

By GREG MOLZON
Many ingredients go into
making a winning baseball team,
but most managers will agree that
there's one essential to becoming a
champion-pitching.
Michigan head coach Bud
Middaugh agrees with this
assessment. "It does every year.
Look at all the other stats. Look at
pitching and defense, that will show
you the teams that will play for the
championship," said Middaugh.
PITCHING will be especially
important for a Michigan squad this
season that lost most of its
offensive power from last year and
also five pitchers that had a
combined 17-4 record.
However, the return of a solid
nucleus and some promising
freshmen should make pitching the
strength of this year's team.
Wolverine pitcher Mike Ignasiak
said, "I think we have one of the
best pitching staffs in the country."
The pitching staff will be led by
righthander Chris Lutz, who went
7-0 last season with a 2.52 ERA.
Lutz was even more impressive in
the Big Ten, going 4-0 with a 0.67
ERA and was named first team All-
Big Ten.
IGNASIAK and Jim Abbott
also return as two more reliable
starters. Ignasiak went 8-3 last
season and has been very
impressive early this year with a 2-
1 record and 1.86 ERA. Abbott,
the team's top southpaw, went 6-2
in 1986 and has struggled a little
this year,1-1, while concentrating
on improving his mechanics.
Greg Everson returns as an
experienced arm out of the bullpen.
The senior went 6-2 with a 1.79
ERA last year and will be an
important factor on the staff. "He's
a big key for us because he has the
capability to come in and shut the1
door down, and he's also got the;
experience behind him," said
Middaugh.

4

Lutz
... top returnee
While the returning pitchers
provide a solid core, questions
remain concerning who will
complete the rotation.
Freshman Mike Grimes has
apparently won one spot by going
2-0 on the spring trip and Middaugh
is hopeful that Jim Agemy will be
able to return from injury to take
another spot.
Agemy missed all but three
innings of 1986 with arm troubles
and won't be available for at least
another month, but the righthander
went 10-0 in 1985 and his return
could be a big plus for the
Wolverines.
CANDIDATES to round out
the rotation include sophomore
Dave Peralta and freshmen Chris
Starr, Ross Powell, and Tim Lata.
Catchers Darrin Campbell and
Mike Gillette form an experienced
platoon behind the plate and should
be a big help to the young pitchers.
The two sophomores are both
excellent defensive players and
combined for only six errors last
year. While Middaugh will split
playing time between the pair,
hitting will decide who plays most
and the competition between the
two should bring out the best in
each of them.

4
4
4

Daily Photo by JOHN MUNSON
Eighth-year head coach Bud Middaugh needs a big year from his pitching staff if he is to win his sixth Big Ten
title.

team earned run average.
Middaugh has also added
freshmen. Mike Grimes and Ross
Powell who have shown promise in
early season action. Both have
started as well as pitched in relief.
MICHIGAN will rely on their
talented arms to keep opponents'
scores down. "Last year we were
scoring 10 runs a game," said Steve
Finken, the team's top returning
hitter (.358). "This year we might
score maybe four or five-maybe
less than that.
"I feel that our pitchers can shut
'em down to under four (runs),
under three, especially when you
get a good performance out of
somebody."
"The pitching staff has got to

perform this year for us to be
successful," Ignasiak said. "I think
everyone on the team will admit
that."
THE WOLVERINES also
admit that they will try to use their
team speed to their advantage.
Middaugh will keep his baserunners
on the go by way of base stealing,
hit and running, and bunting.
"Maybe we can utilize some of
the team speed that we have,"
Middaugh said. "We'll stop taking
so many pitches and be a little
more aggressive at the plate.
"We're going to have to steal
bases. We're going to have to take
some chances. We're going to have
to hit behind guys. Stuff like that

we just have to do, and with a
young club, we've just got to keep
working at it and working at it."
The ultimate question is can
Michigan repeat as Big Ten
champs? The answer will become
clearer as the season wears on when
Middaugh knows exactly what he
has to work with.
"I worry about Michigan, and I
let everybody else worry about
themselves," Middaugh said. "If we
can get our players doing what they
can do best and play to the best of
their ability, then I know we're
going to be in contention."
"I think we'll be all right,"
Ignasiak said. "Bud gets it out of us
one way or another...that's how he
is."

. w I T

4

Ignasiak beats out competition

By GREG MOLZON
When evaluating pitchers, there are certain qualities like speed and
control that can be easily measured. However, what often separates the
best pitchers from the average ones are the intangibles.
One such intangible is competitiveness, and that is what has made
Michigan pitcher Mike Ignasiak one of the winningest in Wolverine
history.
"He's just an unbelievable competitor," said head coach Bud
Middaugh.
Armed with a fastball clocked in the high-80s and three other
pitches (slider, curve, and changeup) that he can throw with accuracy
at any time, Ignasiak has moved into eighth place in the Michigan
record books for career wins in only two seasons.
ALTHOUGH the junior is blessed with some great pitching
ability, he knows what has been the key to his success. "My
competitiveness," Ignasiak said. "When I get out there it's a totally
different world. It's just me and the catcher."
Ignasiak is so intense that it has actually caused problems for him
in the past. "If he has a problem, it's his temperament because he's so
bulldogged," Middaugh said. "(That) is good, but you've got to keep it
positive which he's done this year."
In fact, Middaugh compared Ignasiak's fiery attitude to another
pitcher in the state of Michigan. "His worst enemy is himself, which
is true of any great pitcher. Just look at Jack Morris," said Middaugh.
COMING TO the University of Michigan from Anchorville,
Ignasiak wasted no time finding a spot in the Wolverine rotation his
freshman season. He went 9-2 with a 3.43 ERA and won the Geoff
Zahn Award as Michigan's top pitcher.
In his sophomore campaign, Ignasiak said, "I didn't have a very
good season." His ERA ballooned to 5.07, nevertheless, he led the
team in wins at 8-3 and finished second on the staff in innings pitched
and strikeouts.
Through the first eleven games of this season, the righthander has
been the Wolverines' best pitcher. He is 2-1 with one save and a 1.86
ERA in five appearances, both starting and relieving.
HE FOUND perfection in the home opener as he dominated a
helpless Grand Valley team. Ignasiak pitched four innings without
allowing any runners to reach base or any hitters to hit the ball out of
the infield.
Although Middaugh took him out to work some other pitchers, the
coach said, "He may have pitched a perfect game if I had let him. I
think he's probably throwing as good as I've ever seen him throw
right now."
Michigan catcher Darrin Campbell said, "Most of the time, he's

OUTFIELDERS:
Ever-changing cast

By SCOTT SHAFFER
Just who are the starting
outfielders? That's a tricky
question, and it's almost
impossible to get a short answer
out of Wolverine head coach Bud
Middaugh.
"I don't believe in a set club. I
believe in a guy that works hard in
practice as well as in games. If they
show me that kind of work, I'm
going to get them in the lineup. So
I'm not just looking for three
outfielders," said Middaugh.
Leftfielder Ed Woolwine pulled a
groin muscle last week which
complicates matters further. The
junior is expected to be out of
action for three weeks. Woolwine
hit .343 last year, second best
among returning players.
"Eddie's just had the worst luck
all year with injuries. If it's not one
thing it's another. It's too bad this
happened because we really need
him a lot," said fellow outfielder
Tom Brock.
GIVEN MIDDAUGH'S
philosophy and Woolwine's injury,
the outfielders can all expect a
chance to prove their ability.
The one constant in Middaugh's
outfield for now is Greg McMurtry.
The freshman was the top draft
choice of the Boston Red Sox last
June but will roam centerfield for
the Wolverines instead of in the
minors.
While playing flanker for the
football team last fall, he had little

. 1

q
4

Woolwine
... out for three weeks
Steve Finken, the team's top
returning hitter at . 358 will
probably play the outfield more
frequently when infielder Doug
Kaiser returns from his hamstring
injury. Middaugh has been playing
Finken at second.
BROCK SHOULD see
considerable action in the outfield
as well. Primarily a rightfielder, a
nagging shoulder injury has limited
the junior's throwing ability lately,
causing him to play a few games at
designated hitter. But the injury is
minor and Brock, who hit .263 last
year, expects little trouble from it
any more.
Sophomore Kourtney
Thompson is one of the players
that Middaugh uses in a system that

Daily Photo by DARRIAN SMITH
Michigan pitcher Mike Ignasiak's intense competitiveness has helped
make him one of the Wolverines' top pitchers.
shape, and things like that," said Ignasiak of his brother who was a
Detroit Tiger pitcher in 1973.

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