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April 13, 1992 - Image 12

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-04-13

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Page 4- The Michigan Daily- Sports Monday- April 13, 1992

ITD
Nightmari sh start
was 'just a dream'
by Ryan Herrington
Daily Baseball Writer
About a month ago, I awoke from a dream I was having. Some might
have even called it a nightmare.
In the dream, there were 34 people attempting to play the game of
baseball. The harder and harder they tried to play, the worse and worse the
outcome.
They lost by scores of 10-3, 12-7, and 15-4. They lost to teams who
obviously had more experience playing the game together. While the players
showed some promise, they needed time to mature and become a team.
The growing pains weren't very pleasurable and as I glanced at the
squad's record, I was startled and quickly exited my slumber.
The record read 2-12.
All right, so maybe I was not the one having the nightmares, but the 34
members of the Michigan baseball team certainly couldn't have been
sleeping well four weeks ago. And most likely, neither could their skipper,
Bill Freehan.
Yet despite a start which could conjure up adjectives like 'horrible' and
'atrocious', the Wolverines have begun to display signs of a youthful team
on the rise. Michigan entered this weekend's series against Minnesota
having won 12 of its last 14 games, including six of eight Big Ten
contests. Rather than dwelling on their previous nightmare, the Wolverines
have used the experience they gained in those first few games to propel them
into second place in the Big Ten before Saturday's doubleheader.
It does not take Sigmund Freud to analyze the dreams Michigan had. It
was quite obvious the Wolverines suffered from youthus toomuchus or in
simple terms - a lack of experience.
A common theme has run around the Michigan clubhouse these last few
weeks. Eric Heintschel summed it up well this weekend.
"We have a lot of young guys," the junior pitcher said. "We had to get
the whole team to learn how to win. We had a lot of freshmen coming in, a
lot of young players. Our pitching staff was young and inexperienced also.
"With the type of, teams we were playing (in Florida, during the
nightmare), it was tough to get in the flow and easy to get down. We were
just like 'Don't get down,' especially to the younger players. 'Just stay up
and don't worry about it and things will come around.' Once we started
hitting a streak, it's just been going every since."
He made it sound so easy, as if one could simply read a book and, bingo,
just learn how to win. Whatever coach Freehan taught his pupils, it has sure
had an effect.
The Wolverine bats have looked fresh and alive. Their pitching staff has
settled down and begun to find the strike zone with great regularity. Even
some of the rookies - most notably starters Rodney Goble, Scott Niemiec,
Ron Hollis and pitcher Heath Murray - have started to look comfortable in
their Maize and Blue uniforms.
The aura surrounding the team is one of confidence. The Wolverines
expect to win each ballgame they play, something which could not be said a
month ago. In Saturday's first game, Minnesota scored three runs in the top
of the first off of Heintschel. No problem, Michigan said, answering right
back with two runs in its half of the first and four more on a Scott
Timmerman grand slam in the second, en route to a 8-4 triumph.
In a game like this in Florida, a comeback might have been the furthest

Blue hitters caught
looking vs. Gophers

Michigan's Eric Persinger pitches to Minnesota during this weekend's Big
Ten action. The Wolverines lost three of four to the Golden Gophers.
thing from the Wolverines' minds. Just don't blow us out probably was a
more accurate prediction.
Whatever the reason, maybe the home cooking, maybe the shorter
distance for traveling, maybe the Ann Arbor weather - wait, it's definitely
not the weather - the Michigan baseball team has come together. Learning
from their early season mistakes, the Wolverines can only hope that the pre-
Big Ten season was just that - a preseason where each player learns
individually how to play as a member of a unit.
And now that the preseason is finished, Michigan can once again sleep
easy, knowing that the nightmares of the past have gone away.
And coach Freehan, can you tell us how you taught your team to win? I
am sure many coaches would like this secret.
Maybe he'll give it away while talking in his sleep.

by Tim Spolar
Daily Baseball Writer
Stymied by some tough Min-
nesota pitching, the Michigan base-
ball team suffered its worst weekend
in the Big Ten this season, splitting
two games on Saturday before drop-
ping a pair of contests to the Golden
Gophers yesterday.
In the first game of the weekend,
the Wolverines (7-5 Big Ten, 15-17
overall) put on an impressive display
of offensive fireworks. Only five
times in the preceding 28 games had
Michigan exceeded Saturday's
explosion of eight runs. While the
Golden Gophers (5-7, 18-15) opened
the first inning with three runs,
resulting mainly from bounding balls
through the infield, Michigan struck
back in their half of the inning with
two runs of its own.
"All they were doing was
bouncing the ball through the middle
and hitting balls off the end of their
bats," Michigan head coach Bill
Freehan said. "Were they hitting the
ball hard? No. As a coach, you look
to see if (the pitcher's) arm is getting
tired or if the opposition is hitting
him hard. If they're hitting little
flares, well it's a round ball and a
round bat, and we can't play them
every place.
"They've been scoring a lot of
runs and we haven't. But we've been
winning close ball games and
playing well. For us to score eight
runs, I was very happy with that. We
fell behind, came back, fell behind
again, and came back, and I was
very happy with that."
While the Golden Gophers
retaliated with another run in the top
of the second, Michigan loaded the
bases in the bottom half, bringing
second baseman Scott Timmerman
to the plate. Timmerman, last week's
Big Ten Player-of-the-Week, fell
behind 0-2 before working the count
full and eventually hitting a grand
slam for the game winning runs.
"I was a little upset (going down
0-2), because the bases were loaded
and I knew I was going to get some
pretty good pitches to hit, because
there was pressure on (Minnesota
pitcher Jeff Schmidt). I knew the
longer I was up there, the better
chance I'd have to get my timing
down. I don't think I've been seeing
the ball that well. The longer I was
up there, the more comfortable I
was."
The Wolverines added two
insurance runs, giving starter Eric
Heintschel some breathing room.
Heintschel settled down quickly
after his rocky start, allowing just
one hit over the last five innings and
picking up his third complete game
of the season.
While the 8-4 victory moved the
Wolverines over the .500 mark for
the first time this season, the
sensation lasted only twenty
minutes. Minnesota bounced back
from the drubbing with a 5-1 victory
in the nightcap, giving them a split
of Saturday's twinbill.
The Gophers combined stellar
pitching from starter Eric Slagle
with patience at the plate to preserve
the victory. While the score re-
mained close until the late innings,
Minnesota strung together a clutch
rally off loser Eric Persinger and
Todd Marion, usually Michigan's
stopper coming out of the bullpen.
Unfortunately for the

Wolverines, yesterday's games
resembled Saturday's second much
more than the first. The Golden
Gophers again got great pitching,
from senior starters John Lowery
and Scott Bakkum. Lowery
obliterated Michigan batters at the
plate in the first contest. Nearly
unhittable throughout the contest,
the southpaw recorded 1-2-3 innings
in each of the first three Michigan
appearances. Lowery gave up only
one hit, an RBI single by shortstop
Scott Winterlee, and allowed only
four Wolve Oes to reach base all
game. Wax: r starter Dennis
Konuszewski < -, ae runs
over five innings isa . ielding to
Chris Newton in ti . Newton
inherited a rier from
Konuszewski, and walked tvo mre
to load the bases. Marion renieved
Newton and got him out of the jam,
but gave up a home run to catcher
Darren Gross in the seventh.
Bakkum was similarly dominant
in the final game. Frustrating
Wolverine hitters with six strikeouts,
Bakkum spread five hits and two
walks over his complete game.
Michigan scored early on a first-
'Today does hurt us a
little bit. But while we
lost two, there's a lot
of games left and
other teams that we're
battling lost some
games, so we're not in
that bad of a situation'
- Nate Holdren
Michigan baseball player
inning double by Timmerman who
was driven in by designated hitter
Nate Holdren's single. Holdren
notched the only other Wolverine
run, a 400+ foot solo smash to left-
center in the fourth.
However, while the Wolverines
were otherwise shut down by
Bakkum, the Golden Gophers
managed another late-game rally,
scoring all four of their runs from
the fourth inning on. Michigan
starter Heath Murray yielded two
runs over the first five innings, but
walked the leadoff batter in the
sixth. Marion once again entered,
trying to preserve the 2-2 tie, but
gave up an RBI triple to Charlie
Nelson, who would score on a
passed ball to the next batter.
"Well, we lost two ball games,
so it's hard (to win with so few
runners on base)," Freehan said.
"We were in both ballgames, but we
didn't execute. We faced two
pitchers who were seniors, very
experienced pitchers, while we
started four or five freshmen. We
had some inexperience. We had
some opportunities to keep the
games close, but we didn't make
some of the plays and get a couple
guys out in key situations."
"Today does hurt us a little bit,"
Holdren said. "We went into today
tied for first (in the Big Ten), and we
had a good opportunity to control
what we wanted to do. But while we
lost two, there's a lot of games left
and other teams that we're battling
lost some games (over the weekend),
so we're not in that bad of a
situation."

01

Nate takes Gopher ball deep
Hard-hitting Holdren stars on diamond when not on gridiron

by Tim Spolar
Daily Baseball Writer
It was the bottom half of the
fourth inning, late yesterday after-
noon. Minnesota had just tied the
score at one in its half of the inning
on a home run. While Golden
gopher starter Scott Bakkum had
looked vulnerable early, he had set-
tled down rapidly, getting the
Wolverines out 1-2-3 in both the
second and third innings.
However, as Michigan shortstop
Scott Winterlee flew out to short
center field, the hometown crowd,
seemingly lifeless from Bakkum's
power pitching, began to stir. One
man calmly strode towards the plate
from the on-deck circle. Nate
Holdren. The Wolverines' slugger.
With pleas for a homer piercing
the air from Michigan fans young
and old, Holdren felt the burden to

oblige the faithful. Bakkum deliv-
ered the first pitch, one he won't
soon forget. The sound of the alu-
minum making contact was all any-
one in the park needed to know
where that ball would end up.
After rounding the bases,
Holdren greeted his exuberant
teammates at the plate for a well-de-
served round of high-fives. After the
crowd once again took its seat,
murmurs lingered throughout Fisher
Stadium. The shot had traveled well
over 400 feet, passing over the left-
center field wall and hitting the
fence of the not-so nearby Michigan
softball complex.
When one sees Nate Holdren's 6-
5, 240 pound frame, and then sees
him accomplish Ruthian feats such
as these, and then sees that he
swings hard - hard - at every
pitch in the strike zone, one wonders

if he could do this every time he
makes contact.
But then you learn that the
sophomore also plays linebacker for
the Michigan football team. And that
means he splits his springs between
the two sports. Taking time from
AeN
~ '~ \
N

baseball during the season for off-
season football practices.
"(Playing two sports) is pretty
difficult," Holdren says, "due to the
fact that both sports take different
types of mentalities. In football,
you've got to be aggressive, focused,
and it's more team-oriented. In
baseball, it's laid back to a degree,
but it takes a different type of con-
centration where you need to prac-
tice it day in and day out. Playing
both is difficult, because one day I'll
concentrate on one, one day I'll con-
centrate on the other. Now that foot-
ball is over, I can concentrate just on
baseball and hopefully that will en-
able me to get back on track to
where I want to be."
So while Holdren tries to get
back on track, Wolverine fans will
have to wait for him to put the ball
in the softball fi Id.

Holdren

BASEBALL NOTEBOOK
by Ryan Herrington
Daily Baseball Writer
With one ball and no strikes on Minnesota's Darren Schwankl in the
top of the first, Michigan pitcher Eric Heintschel threw a fastball to his
catcher Scott Niemic. Schwankl hit a comebacker to Heintschel, who made
the easy toss to first base for the third out of the inning.
In what might have seemed like an ordinary sequence to most fans in the
stands at Ray Fisher Stadium Saturday, there was an interesting sidelight

Former roommates
clash in Big Tei tilt
to that out. Heintschel and Schwankl are very familiar with each other,
having been roommates two years ago while attending Air Force.
For the Michigan pitcher, it was a treat to see his old friend.
"We haven't kept in touch much," Heints' 'ici said. "But every time we
play each other, I talk to him. It was great igtt to talk to him. I sort of
know what he likes and what he doesr K.a so it's a little bit of an
advantage for me."
Heintschel obviously did know what .iwankl and the rest of the
Golden Gophers didn't like and he made sure to throw it. After allowing
three runs and three hits in the first, the junior righthander settled down
and allowed only one run on three hits for the rest of the game, notching
his third win in Michigan's 8-4 victory.
As for Schwankl, the third baseman went 0-for-3 on the day.
Is there much of a rivalry between these two former Falcons?
"Not really," Heintschel said. "We always joke about it. It's just good
(to get to see him)."
A GRAND DINGER: After walking the bottom three batters in the
Wolverines' lineup Saturday, Minnesota's Jeff Schmidt served a 3-2
fastball to Scott 4immerman, who proceeded to hit a deep shot to right,
landing just under the scoreboard for a grand slam home run.
For Timmerman, it marked his second dinger of the season. The grand
slam was the first such home run for Michigan since former Wolverine
Mike Matheny belted one against Maine last season.

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