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April 11, 1994 - Image 18

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1994-04-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

18- The Michigan Daily - Monday, April:11, 1994

LDrives Weather steals hitters'
Line Oe competitive thunder

Spring has arrived, but it doesn't always feel like it.
Nobody knows this better than the Michigan baseball team.
In the past two weeks, the Wolverines have had three games postponed
or canceled due to inclement weather.
The first canceled contest against Siena Heights on March 29th was
snowed out. It was Michigan's first home date of the season.
Last Tuesday, freezing rain forced the postponement of a home game

against Eastern Michigan, and snow kept the Wolverines from making the
scheduled trip to Kalamazoo the next day to face Western Michigan.
The weather may seem to be a problem that all college baseball teams
must face, but it has an added impact on Michigan and the Big Ten.
Because of the elements, the Big Ten and Michigan have difficulty
competing on a national level.
While warm-weather schools can schedule their first home game as
early as the end of January, the Wolverines are forced to wait until the end
of March before they are able to play outside.
And even that isn't early enough, as this season indicated.
The weather's impact is enormous.
All Division I teams play approximately the same number of regular-
season games. The only difference is how long teams have to compete.
This season, for example, the Wolverines play 49 games in about two-
and-a-half months. In contrast, warm-weather schools play about the same
number of games in nearly three-and-a-half months.
This gives the southern teams an entire extra month to play their
seasons. As a result, they have more time to prepare for the postseason.
"The weather is a huge disadvantage for us because we are inside on
astroturf taking ground balls and (warm-weather schools) are already
playing games and taking ground balls on the dirt," freshman third
baseman Kelly Dransfeldt said. "We have just come out after they've had
20 or 25 games and we are just trying to get used to ground balls.
"They are so far ahead of us in game situations while )ve can't practice
those inside."
It's no wonder that the Big Ten hasn't been represented in the College
World Series since Michigan last went to Omaha in 1984. The conference
hasn't had a school win the national championship since Minnesota did it
in 1964.
"College baseball has been dominated by climatic conditions," coach
Bill Freehan said. "The success of the warm-weather schools is not
(controlled by the weather) in football or basketball, but it is in baseball
because they can play games earlier than the rest of us."
Recruiting is also difficult at a school like Michigan when it can be 25
degrees in early April.
"I do not sell the weather," Freehan said of his recruiting strategy. "I
can sell a degree from the University of Michigan and I can sell one of the
most competitive programs because we play the top programs, but I don't
sell the weather."
Michigan's academics and other factors can offset the weather, as
shown by the signing of Dransfeldt, the nation's No. I incoming freshman
according to Baseball America.
"Michigan has the great education program and it's well recognized,"
Dransfeldt said. "It's got the tradition and everything and the coaching staff
and facilities up here are top-notch."
Furthermore, the problems with the weather do not mean that Michigan
can't field quality teams.
This year's squad is hardly devoid of talent. Going into the weekend,
the Wolverines were hitting .289 as a team - a solid mark for any
The pitching staff is also strong. Ray Ricken, Ron Hollis, Chris Newton
and Heath Murray form a solid rotation.
The future may hold good news for schools in cold-weather climates.
See WEATHER, Page 20

Chad Chapman waits for the throw at first base.
Banseball allowsc two
runs; splits with Lions

Michigan's Scott Niemiec connects with the ball earlier this season.

4 --m"

If the offense had shown up, the
Michigan baseball team would have
swept both games from Penn State
Instead, the Wolverines (6-4 Big
Ten, 12-14 overall) must be content
with only one victory even though
they got two solid pitching perfor-
mances in the doubleheader against
the Nittany Lions in State College.
In the first game, a 2-1 loss, Michi-
gan managed only four singles off
Penn State starter Dean Kerns. The
Wolverines, however, gained a split
by winning the nightcap, 4-0.
The second doubleheader of the
four-game series, slated for yester-
day, was postponed until today be-
cause of rain.
In the opener Saturday, Michigan
could not solve Kerns, who improved
his record to 4-1 with the complete
game victory. He lowered his earned
run average in conference play to
1.06 by allowing only a single run in
the contest.
Michigan coach Bill Freehan was
disappointed with the lack of offen-
sive production in the first game.
"We were facing a really strong
wind," he said. "I was a little upset
that we didn't make the adjustment

and start hitting the ball on the ground.
"Their pitcher had his best day
and we just didn't adjust."
In the second game, the Wolver-
ines rebounded behind the perfor-
mance of pitcher Ray Ricken.
He allowed just three singles and
struck out seven while walking none
in posting his first shutout of the sea-
son. The win was his fourth on the
season against three losses.
"Ray Ricken was outstanding,"
Freehan said. "I was really glad that
we were able to come back and get the
Offensively, Michigan was led by
centerfielder Brian Simmons, who
was a perfect 3-for-3 with two RBI in
the second game.
The Wolverines scored the game's
first run in the fourth inning, courtesy
of leftfielder Scott Weaver's first
home run of the season.
Michigan then broke the game
open with three runs on three hits in
the sixth to increase the lead to 4-0.
Simmons' two-run double was the
decisive blow.
A switch-hitter, Simmons was hit-
less in three at-bats in the opener,
batting left-handed against the right-
handed Kerns. He collected all three
of his hits in the doubleheader batting
right-handed off southpaw Randy
See BASEBALL, Page 20


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