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April 12, 1993 - Image 16

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The Michigan Daily, 1993-04-12

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Page 6-The Michigan Daily- Sports Monday- April 12,1993

Once an athlete, always an athlete
WolerinepitcherEric Heintsciel aontniues his hfelong obsession

KRISTOFFER GILLETTE/ Dai/
Senior shortstop Scott Winterlee takes a cut last week against Siena
Heights. Winterlee has 16 hits in his last 32 at bats for the Wolverines.
itters eCape streak,
split th Penn State

by Antoine Pitts
Daily Baseball Writer
Sooner or later it had to end.
Going into yesterday's double-
header at Penn State, the Michigan
baseball team had lost eight consecu-
tive conference games - a school
record for one year. Counting the
end of last year the Wolverines had
lost 11 in a row, also a school
record.
Michigan (1-9 Big Ten, 7-24
overall) dropped the first game of
the twinbill to Penn State (2-8, 10-
13), 3-1, but the Wolverines fought
back to triumph, 8-0, in game two to
end the streaks.
The Michigan victory featured
the pitching performance of the year
for the Wolverines. Ray Ricken (1-
4) went all seven innings for
Michigan's first complete game this
year. Ricken gave up just three hits
and struck out seven en route to his
first career shutout.
Pitching has been a problem all
season long for coach Bill Freehan's
team.
"It was great to get good pitch-
ing," Freehan said. "Ray did an out-
standing job for us today."
Ricken had great run support
from the start. Five consecutive hits
to open the game by the Wolverines
chased Penn State starter Denny Bair
(1-2) before he could notch a single
out. Singles by Rodney Goble, Scott
Timmerman, Brian Simmons, Scott
Winterlee and Nate Holdren gave
the Wolverines a quick 4-0 lead.
The Wolverines scored again in
the fifth inning on a two-out run-
scoring double by Winterlee. The
senior shortstop's 3-for-4 game gave
him 16 hits in his last 32 at bats.
Michigan scored its last three
runs in the seventh on hits from
Holdren, Scott Weaver, Matt Copp
(triple) and Goble. Ricken finished
things off by retiring 12 of the last
13batters that he faced, the last two
on strikeouts.
The first game of the afternoon

saw the two teams play opposite
roles. The Nittany Lions got a
complete game from their pitcher,
Justin Craig (2-1), and limited the
Wolverines to three hits.
For the Wolverines, Heath
Murray (2-4) did not allow a hit until
the fourth inning but the hit led to
Penn State's first run. In the next in-
ning, Murray hit a batter just before
giving up Kirk Rentschler's seventh
homer of the year.
Michigan's lone run in the game
came in the final inning from two
Wolverines making their return to
the lineup following injuries,
Timmerman and Holdren.
Timmerman doubled and Holdren
brought him home with his first hit
of the year.
Holdren had not yet played this
year because of a knee injury he suf-
fered during football season.
Timmerman missed the last five
games with a broken thumb.
"We've been hoping to get
Holdren back because he's been our
leading homerun and RBI guy for a
couple of years," Freehan said.
"He's still limited in what he's able
to do, but he had a good day.
"Timmerman will not be 100
percent for three weeks," Freehan
continued. "We figured we'd throw
those guys in and see where we go.
There's not a whole lot of tomor-
rows in this Big Ten race for us."
The doubleheader split kept the
Wolverines in last place in the Big
Ten, one game behind the Nittany
Lions for ninth.
The Wolverines remained in
State College a night longer than
was originally expected. Saturday's
doubleheader at Beaver Field was
rained out, forcing Michigan to stay
around to play those games begin-
ning at noon today.
Eric Heintschel and Ron Hollis
will pitch today for the Wolverines.

by Michael Rosenberg
Daily Baseball Writer
It was in church. In Toledo. In
the winter of 1975.
Mass was ending, and the priest,
getting ready to bless those who had
braved the weather and shown up,
raised his hands.
In the congregation, three-and-
half-year-old Eric Heintschel knew
what this meant.
"Touchdown!" he yelled.
Everyone laughed.
That was it. That was when Rich
Heintschel first realized his son was
an athlete.
Two years after the church
incident, when Eric was five, he told
his father he wanted to play tee-ball.
"Anything reasonable Eric
wanted to try, we let him try," Rich
says.
But when Rich went to sign Eric
up for tee-ball, he found out that the
minimum age to play in the local
league was six. Rich signed him up
anyway. If Eric wanted to play, why
shouldn't he play? He played.
Nobody noticed he was younger
than everyone else.
From then on, no one could tear
Eric away from sports. Wherever he
was, he would find a ball. Usually,
he would also find someone to play
with. When the Heintschels would
meet family friends on family
occasions, Eric would find someone
who wanted to play with him.
Always.
And so it was for the next seven
years: Eric would play, Rich would
let him, and sometimes they would
play together.
As much as Eric was consumed
by sports, sports were consumed by
Eric. He played from 11 a.m. till
dark. Every day. He never got bored.
He knew nothing else.
"Growing up, all my friends, I
met through sports," Eric says.
"That's all we did. Play sports."
In the Little Leagues, Eric played
shortstop and batted third.
Sometimes, when the team needed
it, he came in and pitched. But for
the most part he was content to play
shortstop.
"Usually there was someone on
the team who could pitch better than
me," he says. "I didn't mind. I kind
of liked playing shortstop. I got to
bat a lot."
Of course, the playing was not
limited to organized games.
"We would usually stay after a
(Little League) game and play
again," he says. "And then I would
go home and drag my dad outside to
play catch."
But eventually, the father would
no longer play catch with the son.
The relationship had worn on the
two, especially the father. It started
to hurt just to play catch.
"It got to the point, in seventh or
eighth grade, where my father
stopped playing catch with me," says
Eric. "He said that I was throwing
too hard, that I was breaking blood
vessels in his hands.
As Eric grew up, he began to see
sports as more than just an innocent
way to have fun and hang out with
friends. He watched sports on

television, and he thought, I can be
like them.
"My idol in baseball was Roger
Clemens, and in football it was John
Elway," he says. "I liked to model
myself after them."
He was no longer Eric Heintschel
pitching to John from down the
street. He was Roger Clemens
striking out 20 against Seattle. His
touchdown passes became more than
just throws to an open reciever. They
were bullets to a streaking teammate.
It is a fact of life that with
success comes popularity, and with
failure comes alienation. Heintschel
should know. In his last year of
Little League, eighth grade, his team
finished in third place, with a 12-6
record. Eric was 0-6.
"It was a six-team league, and we
played every team three times," Eric
says. "It's the only league I've ever
been in when everything worked out
exactly the way it was supposed to.
There were no upsets. It was
incredible.
"The first-place team went
undefeated (18-0.) The second-place
team went 15-3, losing only to the
first-place team. We went 12-6. We
got swept by the top two teams and
beat everyone below us."
Heintschel, the team's best
pitcher, threw against the top two
teams. That's where the 0-6 record
came from.
Eric's teammates would not
accept the tough competition as an
excuse for his record.
"They were really getting on
me," Eric says. "They would say
things like 'We'd be undefeated
without you,' and that kind of thing.
They were serious. I mean, I was
losing 1-0 and 2-1 to the best teams
in the league, and they were getting
on my case. Your teammates aren't
supposed to do that."
By the time Heintschel was in the
ninth grade, his athletic skills were
no longer something to poke fun at.
He excelled at basketball, baseball
and football.
"Basketball was just a sport to
stay in shape," he says. "I did decent
in it - I played forward - but
nothing spectacular."
Heintschel liked football, but in
his hierarchy of favorite sports,
baseball was clearly No. 1.
However, when he tried out for the
team in his freshman year at St.
Francis H.S. in Toledo, he was cut.
He did not take it well.
"I was heartbroken," Eric says. "I
couldn't understand why I didn't
make the team. After they
announced the cuts, I went up to the
coach and asked him why I got cut.
I'll never forget it. He said, 'I don't
think you have a strong enough arm
to pitch high school baseball."
Heintschel transferred to Clay
H.S. in his hometown, Oregon,
Ohio. It was there that he exacted
revenge. Heintschel would often ask
his coach if he could skip his spot in
the rotation to pitch against St.
Francis.
"Every time I pitched against (St.
Francis), I'd beat them," he says. "I
shut them out every time I played

them except once, when we won 8-
1."
Despite a lifetime of practice,
Heintschel really didn't blossom
until his senior year. In 11th grade,
he was the No. 2 starter on the
baseball team and the third-string
quarterback in football.
Heintschel's father was close to
Eric's success. Some would say too
close. Rich was an assistant principal
at Clay.
"It never really got in the way,"
Rich says. "Nobody ever took it out
on Eric when I punished them."
"It wasn't a problem because
everybody liked him," Eric says.
Rich never had to discipline Eric
at school. In fact, he almost never
had to discipline Eric at home.
"I felt Eric should have his
priorities in order: academics first,
athletics second," Rich says. "Eric
always understood that. Maybe he
could have done better than he did,
but when you have a kid with a 3.4
GPA and a 30 composite on ACT,
he's doing pretty well."
Eric had a much more diverse
group of friends in high schol then
he had had during his childhood.
"I had as many friends in the
band as I did on the sports field," he
says.
When it came time to choose a
college, Heintschel went with his
'My whole family was
just ecstatic to find
out I was coming to
Michigan.'
- Eric Heintschel
heart. He wanted to be a pilot, so he
went to Air Force. The experience
was not as pleasant as he had hoped.
"After a while, with the defense
cuts and new requirements - they
were making it so that you had to
stay five years instead of two after
graduation - it became obvious I
wasn't going to become a pilot," he
says.
Heintschel decided to transfer.
Eric was set on attending Bowling
Green when one of his assistant
coaches at Air Force contacted
Michigan assistant Dan O'Brien,
whom he had known for some time.
The Air Force assistant
recommended Heintschel to
O'Brien, and the pitcher decided to
transfer to Michigan.
"I was thrilled to come to
Michigan," says Eric, who was born
in Ann Arbor. "My whole family
was just ecstatic to find out I was
coming to Michigan and that I would
play baseball here. We've always
loved Michigan."
Ifeintschel arrived in the middle
of his sophomore year. He was not
subject to the usual hazing and
practical jokes that incoming players
receive.
"They didn't do that to me
because I wasn't a freshman," Eric
says. "So I got to do it to other
people but they didn't do it to me. I

guess I was lucky."
Last year, Heintschel's grades
slipped, a development he attributes
to concentrating too much on
baseball.
Perhaps because a part of him
still thinks of himself as the next
Roger Clemens, he heightened his
own expectations about his Major
League prospects. He was extremely
disappointed when he was not
chosen in the June draft.
"The coaches were very surprised
I wasn't drafted," he says.
Will Heintschel turn pro if he is
drafted this year?
"I don't know," he says. "I just
changed my najor from
mathematics to general studies, and I
won't graduate until the end of next
year. My scholarship money will be
extended through next year. I realize
that if I leave, I may be giving up a
diploma from the University of
Michigan, which is a main reason I
came here."
One of the first players
Heintschel met when he arrived on
campus was reliever Todd Marion.
The two became fast friends.
"It was real easy," Marion says.
The pitchers decided to room
together last year, and they live
together this year as well.
Not that the relationship is
without its problems.
"I've blown a few leads for him,"
Marion says of Heintschel. "He
really gets mad at me for that."
Heintschel says that they get mad
at each other about once a week, and
they get in a "big fight" about once a
month.
"When you practice with
someone, hang out with them, and
live with them," Heintschel says,
"they get on your nerves. You get
sick of them."
"Yeah," says Marion. He points
at Heintschel. "Would you want to
spend all of your time with this
guy?"
Sometimes, if Marion and
Heintschel have gone a while
without getting into an argument,
Marion will take it upon himself to
annoy Heintchel until they fight.
"I know exactly what buttons to
push," Marion says proudly. "He
gets really mad until he realizes I'm
just messing with him. Then he
laughs."
Years from now, when Eric
Heintschel looks back at his life, he
will likely divide his life into two
parts. The first half, dominated by
athletics, will almost certainly end
this spring. The second part will start
Sept. 4, when Heintschel exchanges
wedding vows with his girlfriend,
Cindy.
"We met originally when we
were real young," he says. "We
played with each other on one of
those family outings. But we really
met again when we were about 12 or
13. we started dating with one month
left in high school. The rest, as they
say, is history."
The pitcher insists he is not
apprehensive about the wedding.
"I'm not nervous," he says. "I'm
excited."

0

0

Stormy weather haunts crew team

by Brian Hiliburn
Daily Sports Writer
Bad weather seems to follow the
Michigan crew team no matter where
it goes.
This past weekend the Wolver-
ines drove all the way to Washing-
ton, D.C. to race on the Potomac
River in the George Washington In-
vitational. As has been this sea-
son's pattern, inclement weather
tracked the Wolverines down and
forced the regatta to be called mid-
way through the meet.
Rain was the lone standout of
Saturday's regatta. Some of the
boats started out their day by rowing
their qualifying heats in the rain.
Then, just before the final races were
about to begin, torrential rain and
wind stormed in and swamped the

boats which were about to race. The
regatta was called off at 5:45 p.m.
The Invitational featured some of
the best teams in collegiate rowing,
including Georgetown, George
Washington, George Mason, Navy,
Temple, Virginia and Cincinnati.
The Wolverines expressed frustration
out of not getting a chance to finish
out the meet against the high caliber
of competition.
"It was disappointing because cer-
tain crews didn't get to race their fi-
nal race," senior rower Fletcher
Jones said. "But everybody was glad,
because nobody wanted to have to
perform in that weather."
"The day started out good, but
then it went to hell. We were wet,
rainy, and cold all day," junior rower
Monica Maiorana added.

The cancellation comes a week
after Michigan was forced to com-
pete in mini-races with Cincinnati
due to bad weather. Since the origi-
nal site of the Bearcats' regatta froze
over last weekend, the teams had to
compete on the tiny Huron River,
which is too small to accommodate
a full-length race.
Although the Wolverines were
not allowed the satisfaction of com-
peting in all of the finals, they took
consolation by performing well in
their qualifying heats. The women's
varsity boat provided the Invitational
with one of its most exciting races.
The women's heat featured Navy,
Virginia, and Temple - all teams
that the Wolverines had not fared
well against in the past. Michigan
See CREW, Page 8

The Michigan crew team faced some bad weather once again over the weekend that canceled their regatta.

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