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March 30, 1988 - Image 10

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-30

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Page 10 -The Michigan Daily-Wednesday, March 30, 1988

Stealing the show: Shortstop Finken sparks 'M'

I

with speed, sizzling offense

By RICHARD EISEN
Growing up as a child in Fort
Wayne, Ind., Steve Finken loved the
game of baseball. Even though he
was the most valuable player for his
high school football team, he always
concentrated on baseball.'
"Really throughout my life I've
had my heart centered on baseball,"
said Finken. "I played other sports
just to be active in athletics."
Finken's heart-felt dedication to
the sport of baseball has paid off. As
Michigan's senior shortstop he has'
become one of the stars on this
year's baseball team.
In his two years with the team,
Finken has racked up such honors as
1987 All-Big Ten second baseman
and The 1987 Ted Sizemore Award Fin
for the best Michigan fielder. In ... on ho
1986, he batted an excellent .358 average witti one
homer and 30 RBIs.
THIS YEAR, he is even more torrid. After this
weekend's games against Ball State, Finken is hitting
an even .500, with a ten-game hitting streak. Not only
is Finken great with the bat, he is doing more stealing
than a PTL director.
Finken has stolen four bases this year, and last
weekend stole the 44th base of his career, tying Michi-
gan greats like Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin
and Mike Watters for the all-time Michigan mark.
Believe it or not, Finken's speed is not what it used
to be. Because he broke his leg in his first year at
Michigan, his speed has suffered.
"He had real exceptional speed in high school, but
then he broke his ankle," said Michigan head coach Bud
Middaugh. "He still can run, but he doesn't have near
the speed that he had before."
In his faster high school days, Finken stole more
than 60 bases in his career at Elmhurst H.S. at Fort
Wayne.
COMING OUT of Fort Wayne, Finken was
heavily recruited by several colleges, with Indiana
State, Indiana, Louisiana Tech, and Michigan heading
the list.
Obviously, Finken chose Michigan.

d
D1

"I liked the program that coach
Middaugh had set up here," said
Finken of his choice. "I thought I
could get a good education out of it,
which I'm getting."
Finken's baseball excellence
continued as he went from prep-
school to the 1984 USA junior
Baseball team. On that team, Finken
hit a home run and a triple against
Taipei, as the team went on to win
the silver medal in the worldwide
'~competition.
But the days of wine and roses
ended when Finken arrived at
Michigan. Before the season began,
he experienced what he later labeled
as his worst moment with the
Wolverines. While running in the
ken football stadium, Finken came to a
stop and turned his ankle completely
t streak over, breaking it.
He didn't play one game that year.
"I FELT really bad because while playing base-
ball, I never sat through a season," said Finken.
But every cloud has a silver lining. Because of his
injury, he was redshirted, and now he has an extra year
of eligibility.
"I'm kind of glad (I sat), because I probably
wouldn't have played anyway," joked Finken. "Now, I
can play four years."
After sitting out, however, Finken did not seem
rusty, as he hit .358 with 13 stolen bases during his
sophomore year. But the lay-off took its toll defen-
sively, as Finken committed 18 errors in 54 games for
a poor fielding percentage of .921.
But this is only a testament to Finken's hard work
and dedication for he came back the next year and cap-
tured the Ted Sizemore award. He committed only nine
errors, for a much better percentage of .962.
Finken is a team player, unconcerned with the
records and the hitting streak. He is concerned, instead,
with the welfare of the team.
"I'm really just playing for the team," said Finken
of his role on the squad. "I'm hoping that everybody
does really well this year, because we really do have a
strong team."

Daily Photo by ELLEN LEVY
First basement should get used to this view of Steve Finken. The shortstop tied the all-time Michigan stolen
base record when he stole his 44th Saturday against Ball State.

Line Drives

Mother nature snows on M'
championship aspirations

By PETER ZELLEN
In mid-February, Michigan had
been ranked third in the nation in
both the Baseball America and ESPN
polls.
And Michigan hadn't even played
a game yet.
About two weeks later, Michigan
climbed the polls to place second.
But still they hadn't played a
game.
In the meantime, top 10 teams
like Oklahoma State, Florida State,
and Texas had already played about
25 games.
The Texas Longhorns were just
rip-snortin' ready when they played
Michigan March 13 on national tele-
vision. Plain and simple, the
Wolverines got pummelled, 11-2.
Michigan hitters looked confused and
their timing was way off. Coach Bud
Middaugh's bunch managed four hits.
THE FIELDING seemed like
that of a high school game. It was
strange coming from a team coached
by Middaugh, a man known as a
stickler for excellent defense. Michi-
gan committed six errors. Three were
in the first inning when Texas scored
five runs, four of which were un-
earned-

Pitcher Jim Abbott has been the
constant in the rotation, but against
Texas he was less than spectacular.
Sure there were errors that worked
against him but he lasted just two
innings and had every ball rocketed
off the Longhorn bats with a re-
sounding clang.
I am not knocking Michigan
baseball; I support the team fully.
My focus is the unfair system of
collegiate baseball.
WHAT'S UNFAIR is that
warm weather schools, like Texas,
get to play so many more games
than a team like Michigan because of
their home climate. The Wolverines
got beaten so badly partly because

they were just getting out of the bat-
ter's box. Michigan was still in
'spring training' so to speak.
Coach Middaugh thinks otherwise
though, "This season we've been
beaten five times soundly. Against
Texas we didn't play well defen-
sively. With our injuries we've had
to change people around and when
you do that it's conducive to mis-
takes. Weather isn't that much of a
factor. We just didn't play well."
Middaugh is right in that respect
but whatever the reason for the loss,
the unbalanced schedules make the
.poll rankings almost useless. Michi-
gan had yet to set foot on the field
and it was proclaimed the second best

team in the country.
After the Texas loss, the Wolver-
ines dropped to sixteenth and after the
road trip Michigan fell to 21st in the
polls. It's ridiculous to think that a
team goes from being the second best
to being 21st best in two weeks.
WHAT CAN BE done about
this? It's a tough call. You can't just
ask the Michigan Athletic Depart-
ment to sink 50 million dollars into
a domed stadium. It's a nice idea, but
pretty far-fetched.
What might be a good suggestion
is to have all teams start their sched-
ules at the same time so that a 1-1
Michigan team doesn't face a Texas
squad with 20 or so wins. Also,
teams that haven't played shouldn't
be ranked against those who have so
many games under their belt.
Because of the Michigan weather
the baseball Wolverines will con-
tinue to play in February in the
football practice building instead of
on a real field like their Texan oppo-
nents. They might never get enough
polish needed in order to shine as na-
tional champions.
It seems as if the Michigan base-
ball team will have to suffer from the
cold along with their fans.

Daily Photo by SCOTT IUTUCHY
Head coach Bud Middaugh enters his ninth season as baseball coach at
the University of Michigan. Despite the fact that Middaugh has a .718
career winning percentage, he has never won a national title. Some think
this could be due to the scheduling in college baseball.

I

PITCHERS AND CATCHERS:
Battery strong for

NEWCOMERS:

M'

BY MICHAEL SALINSKY
According to Michigan head coach Bud Middaugh,
"You're only as good as your pitching." If that is
true, then it looks like Michigan is going to be aw-
fully good.
How good?
Well, consider that Jim Abbott, winner of last
year's Golden Spikes Award for college player of the
year, 11-3 last season, with a 2.08
ERA, and 17-5 in his career, has
never been named first team All-
Big Ten. But two other Wolverines
have.
Senior Mike Ignasiak is one of
those two. The hard throwing
righthander fanned 99 batters in just
91 innings of work last season. Ig-
nasiak returns to the Wolverines
despite being drafted by the Cardi-
nals in the fourth round of last
year's draft.
THE OTHER All-Big Ten
hurler is junior, Chris Lutz. The
righty saw somewhat limited action
in '87 due to an early-season bout
with mono. Still, Lutz extended his
career record to 13-0 with six wins

gan's starting four at the moment, but according to
Middaugh, that is subject to change. The two leading
candidates to make a bid for starting assignments are
lefty Ross Powell and righty Jeff Tanderys.
POWELL started six games last season and won
five of them compiling a 6-0 mark on the year along
with two saves.

Tanderys has emerged early as
the top rookie pitcher with a win in
his first start against Texas South-
ern.
Also making bids for innings
will be junior Dave Peralta who
has been plagued by injuries
throughout his career and sopho-
more Tim Lata.
Lata led the Wolverines with a
1.71 ERA last year but has been
having trouble getting work on
such a deep squad. The righthander
may find a role in short relief but
will have to compete with Ignasiak
and Powell, the probable righty-
lefty combination.
Ignasiak's five saves in addition

'M' youth
By PETER ZELLEN
Here they come! Those fresh young faces that
invigorate a team and give them hopes for the future.
Yes, folks, it's the newcomers. This year has
produced quite a crop of youngsters.
Leading the brigade has been first baseman Greg
Haeger. He's looked shaky defensively at times but
his hitting has been outstanding. In his first 43 at
bats he's collected 15 hits for a .349 average. He's
also drawn 10 walks and stolen two
bases.
An interesting tidbit about
Haeger is that he is an excellent
pitcher, too. He had a2.00 ERA for
his high school team leadingf
Redford Catholic Central to the
Class A title. Interestingly
enough, Haeger could be called
upon to pitch in a tight situation.1
ANOTHER excellent new-
comer is Dan Ruff. Playing fre-
quently at DH, he has batted .478.
Three of his 11 hits have been
doubles and he has also showed
some speed, stealing two bases.
A Bremen. Ohio native. Ruff N~

school to the Junior USA squad. He'si
and is still getting used to the plate.

fielding well

ON THE MOUND, Jeff Tanderys has been
fireballing his way into the rotation, with a 1-0 record
and a 3.46 ERA. In high school this right-hander was
something of a phenom with a 9-2 record and 100
strikeouts in 55 innings in his senior year. Before
long, he might find his way into the starting rotation.
Middaugh is impressed with
the kids but takes nothing for
granted. "They've contributed
positively but they have to keep
playing well. None of them are
4W assured of a job," said the skipper.
Right now Middaugh has a
whole lot of new talent and not a
lot of spots to put them in. It will
be a miracle for all of them to get
adequate playing time.
COACH MIDDAUGH says
that infielder Dave Everly is
readying himself for some action
at second base. A Columbia, Md.
native, Everly has a potent bat,
0 Onrleading his American Lesin

is powerful

.

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