The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - Monday, April 8, 1996 - 58
.olverines must cut down on errors to stay in 1st
By James Goldstein
Daily Sports Writer
They can hit, they can pitch, but
defense is what will make or break
Meet the Michigan baseball team,
the leaders of the Big Ten.
The Wolverines are now 9-3 in the
*nference, two games in front of
Ohio State and Indiana, after taking
three of four from Minnesota over the
After getting out to a horrible 1-13
start - falling to tough non-confer-
enceopponents-Michigan has made
a complete turnaround, winning I1 of
its last 14 games.
New Michigan coach Geoff Zahn
haspreached an aggressive style, both
the plate and on the basepaths.
And it has worked.
'The Wolverines make music at the
plate, chiming base-hits left and right
from their aluminum bats. And when
they get on base, the Wolverines work
just like Energizer Bunnies.
They keep going, and going and
It's true that Michigan only tallied
three stolen bases in the four-game
Snference set. But that doesn't tell
the whole story. Many times when the
Wolverines reached base, Zahn called
for hit-and-runs. Michigan didn't suc-
ceed in any of them, but kudos for
trying. This is an effective way of
ines also capital-
ized on the Go-
phers' Il wild
pitches in the se-
ries. It seemed as
if Michigan went
every time the
ball got by a one-
foot radius from
In the first
victory in the opening game of the
With Wolverine pinch-hitter Bobby
Scales on third base, Kirk Beermann
popped to short-center field; the short-
stop retreated to grab the pop-up,
squeezing the ball for the second out
of the inning. But Scales immediately
tagged up and sprinted toward home,
sliding in safely for the run.
It was risky, but it was aggressive.
And that's what the Wolverine are as
Michigan took advantage any time
it had a chance to run. This could
make it much easier for the Wolver-
ines to get runs on the board. And this
aggressive style gives their power-
hitters more at-bats and good pitches
Dransfeldt, Derek Besco and Mike
Cervenak all benefited from good
pitches. The threesome combined for
five home runs, 12 RBI and 1I hits
The meat of the order is shap-
ing up to be one of the
conference's best. If they
continue their hot hitting,
Don't throw them any of that over-
the-plate garbage because they will
"(The Minnesota starting pitcher)
just made a mistake," Dransfeldt said,
speaking of his second home run of
the series in yesterday's 4-2 win. "He
gave me a fastball high."
Those high, down-the-middle
fastballs are what the Michigan pitch-
ing staff has avoided thus far.
The Wolverine pitching staff has
been all but brilliant in conference
play. Led by J.J. Putz and Mark
Temple, who both pitched seven-in-
ning complete games Saturday in
Michigan wins, the hurlers pile up
strikeouts, can get out of an inning in
crucial situations, and keep walks to a
Against Minnesota, Putz, Temple
and Brian Steinbach didn't have their
best stuff. But
they made the
w h e n
a n d
in conference games.
"I felt pretty good out there. but I
didn't pitch too well," Putz said. "The
team picked me up.
"I got in some tough jams and got a
ground ball here and there, and my-
teammates turned a couple double
plays for me."
When the Wolverines were on, the
Michigan fielders uere turning the
double plays and backing up the Wol-
verine pitchers with solid defense.
Cervenak snagged balls hit his way
at third base. Dransfeldt ran down
grounders at shortstop and made
strong throws to first base.
Besco nailed a Minnesota runner at
the plate from right field. And center
fielder Brian Bush made a diving catch
on a sinking line drive.
But when Michigan was struggling,
it was usually suffering from shoddy
Yesterday, Dransfeldt bobbled a
routine ground ball right at him. The
Wolverines' Mike Haskell was called
for catcher's interference when his
glove got in the way of a Gopher bat.
Saturday, Bush overran a ball that
fell in front of him for what should
have been a single. His two-base error
cost Michigan a run.
If the Wolverines want to stay on
top in the conference. they must cut
down on their errors - physical and
mental. After Michigan's four-game
set against the Gophers, the Wolver-
ines have a total of 54 miscues in 28
games. Dransfeldt leads the way with
It is true that this is a young and
inexperienced team. There are only
six seniors on the squad. So some
errors could be written off to the
"We're still doing some freshman
things," Zahn said. "But they keep
improving, and I think that this club
will keep getting better."
Yes, the Wolverines are improving
-- their hitting and pitching. But their
fielding needs a lot of work. Michi
gan is in first place right now in the
conference. But a first-place team usu
ally supports its slugging and pitch
ing with solid defense.
If the Wolverines don't wtant to fall
back to the middle of the pack, the
"E" must stay off the scoreboard. If
Michigan succeeds in doing this, it
could be one happy and successful
season for Zahn and the Wolverines
game of the set, the Wolverines used
this to their advantage. In the third
inning, with Michigan's Kelly
Dransfeldt on second base after his
RBI double and Jason Alcaraz on
third, Minnesota starter Justin
Pederson threw a wild pitch that went
back to the backstop. Alcaraz raced
home for one run. Later in the inning,
two more wild pitches - that weren't
that wild - led to another run.
This aggressive running style led to
Michigan's go-ahead run in their 4-2
work double duty
By James Goldstein
Daily Sports Writer
He's so good-that you'd think that
two of him are on the field.
There are two of them on the field.
Michigan's Derek and Brian Besco
are identical twins.
Derek bats and throws right-handed
Brian is a left-hander.
Derek is the Wolverines' right-
fielder - Brian shifts between first
base and designated hitter. But Brian
can also pitch.
The sophomore brothers from
Westland have been a successful duo.
Both have contributed greatly in
Michigan's hot conference start.
And both were a large reason why
the Wolverines took three of four from
Minnesota over the weekend, 7-3, 6-
* 4-2 and 0-4.
Derek came into the four-game set
against the Gophers leading Michi-
Sgan with his sizzling .385 batting av-
erage, having stroked 10 hits in 26 at-
And against Minnesota, Derek went
6-for-12 with one home run and had
-Derek's dinger was just one-of-
Shree in Saturday's 6-2 win in the
cond game of the doubleheader.
'Michigan third-baseman Mike
Cervenak belted two two-run homers
'ii the victory.
Cervenak opened the sixth inning,
crushing Minnesota pitcher Mike
Diebolt's first pitch to the grassy knoll
past the leftfield fence.
And then stepped up Derek.
"I followed Cervenak's home run,
so it was a fastball right down the
,iiddle," Derek said. "I was going to
ake advantage of it. I got all of it. It
just happened at a good time. We
needed a couple of more runs."
-But Derek contributed in the field,
He made two solid defensive plays
that thwarted any chance of long in-
nings for the Gophers.
The second game of Saturday's
twinbill is when Derek helped out in
Minnesota third-baseman Rob
Smith led off the fourth inning with a
long fly ball to right-centerfield. Derek
Was playing close to the rightfield
foul line, but made a nice one-handed
backhand catch on the dead run -
saving a certain double.
s And then three batters later with a
runner at second and two outs, Go-
pher leftfielder Troy Stein blooped a
&it over Michigan first baseman Mike
Derek charged toward the bounc-
ing ball, picked it up in stride, and
fired a one-bounce throw to catcher
Mike Haskell. Haskell tagged Minne-
sota runner Craig Selander, who was
attempting to score from second base,
for the final out of the inning.
No run, no harm, nice throw.
"My arm has been feeling good,"
Derek said. "(Opponents) have been
running on me and I'm just going to
throw them out every time I have a
Brian has not been hitting as tor-
ridly as Derek has. But it looks like
he is breaking out of his slump.
Before the Minnesota series
began, Brian was hitting an ice-
cold .173 on nine hits in 52 at-
bats. The left-hander had two
home runs and eight RBI.
But Brian gave the
Wolverines a lift in
the first and final
games of the
B r i a n
a n d
in a run.
with a shot that
hit the base of the
wall under the 400-
foot sign. Brian
wound up at third base
with a stand-up triple.
The designated hitter
knocked in a run in his
next at-bat in the sixth with
a line-drive double that raced
by the leftfielder and
But Brian contributed in another
way yesterday. He was called upon by
Michigan coach Geoff Zahn to relieve
starter Mike Hribernik in the middle of
Brian pitched four and two-third
innings and allowed just three hits,
striking out three.
The Besco brothers are more and
more becoming crucial factors in
Derek's bat is a must in the fifth
position ofthe batting order. Cervenak
and Kelly Dransfeldt are going to be
pitched around if they continue their
Brian has somewhat regained his
hitting stroke. But it's on the mound
where he is going to counted on just
as much as at bat.
Now can't you distinguish between
the two of them'?
for leadoff hitter
By Will McCahill
Daily Sports Writer
From the results Michigan has been getting lately, it might come as a
surprise that there is a weak link in the offensive chain.
The Wolverines - who have won 10 out of their last 13 - are having
problems getting production out of their leadoff hitter.
Since the beginning of the season, coach Geoff Zahn has given a
number of players the first chance at bat, including Chuck Winters,
Brian Bush, Bobby Scales, Brian Kalczynski and Jason Alcaraz.
Zahn attributes the lack of results partly on the fact that Michigan
hasn't had enough games in which to tinker'with
the lead spot.
-,r "There's no question we're looking for some-
,asebone to lead off," Zahn said."
"What we haven't been able to do is play the
Notebook mid-week games to try different combinations
Michigan has had mid-week contests against
Eastern Michigan, Toledo and Western Michi-
gan postponed or canceled due to inclement
"Hopefully we can play this week and do some things," Zahn said. The
Wolverines have games scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, home
against Hillsdale and at Detroit-Mercy, respectively and, of course,
C'MON C'Mo wnILD THING: In this weekend's four-game series, Michigan
and Minnesota combined to throw 16 wild pitches.
Minnesota junior righthander Justin Pederson exhibited the least co-
trol, getting wild five times in Saturday's first game.
And costly it was for the Gophers, as Michigan scored twice amidst the
wildness. Both runs came in the third inning on three wild pitches. The
Wolverines won the game, 7-3.
Gopher senior Brad Kearin was luckier with his wild pitches. He tossed
three in Sunday's second contest, but none of them came back to haunt him,
and he came away with a complete-game shutout of the Wolverines.
Michigan's Brian Steinbach had two wild pitches, coming in the
yesterday's first game. Fortunately for him and his teammates, neither
ended up doing the Wolverines any lasting damage, as they won, 4-2.
Minnesota's Mike Diebolt hurled two such pitches while taking the loss
in Saturday's second game. Not that it should cheer the junior southpaw up
any, but at least he gave up fewer wild pitches than home runs. He gave up
three dingers, including two to Wolverine third baseman Mike Cervenak.
Also tossing wild pitches over the weekend were Minnesota's Joe
Westfall and Michigan's Mark Temple, Mike Hribernik and John
CATCHING wOEs: In addition to all the wild pitches, the two teams also
combined for five passed balls.
Most of those can be chalked up to Michigan's Mike Haskell, who
had four in Saturday's second game. Unlike wild pitches, however,
passed balls are counted as errors by the catcher. Ultimately, though, the
errors mattered little in the Wolverine victory.
A passed-ball error didn't hurt Minnesota's Matt Skovran in
yesterday's second game, either, as the Gophers shut the Wolverines
Skovran played this weekend in the place of regular backstop Bryan
Guse. Guse has been suspended indefinitely by the University of
Minnesota for an offense termed only "violating team rules."
Guse was fourth on the team with a .351 average before the suspen-
sion, and was leading the Gophers with 22 runs batted in. He had played
in 22 of Minnesota's 23 contests.
Skovran, meanwhile, had all of two at-bats going into the weekend.
The Gopher freshman acquitted himself decently in Guse's stead,
collecting three hits in nine trips to the plate while playing in all four
THE LEADER OF THE PACK: Zahn said he is pleased by the leadership
junior shortstop Kelly Dransfeldt has been showing of late, on the field,
at the plate and in the clubhouse.
"He's providing good leadership out there," Zahn said. "We have a
young team, but the young guys are coming along (behind Dransfeldt)."
Dransfeldt acknowledges his role on the team. "Basically. the other
guys look up for leadership on the field," he said.
"You don't really have to say a lot, because if you play hard on the
field, they're going to play hard behind you. That's basically the
leadership you need."
hurler J.J. Putz rares
back to fire in the
ontinued from Page 1B
Temple struggled a little in the top of
the seventh, allowing the Gophers to
avoid the shutout.
Three hits and two wild pitches
gave Minnesota two runs, but it was
indeed too little too late, and Temple
short-lived, as the Wolverines roared
out of the box in their half of the fifth.
First baseman Mike Muir started
things off for Michigan, grounding a
double past Horton down the first
base line. Freshman Bobby Scales,
batting for centerfielder Brian Bush,
drew a key walk after catcher Mick
Kalahar flied out to right.
Muir came around to score 'hen
Selander in the top ofthe sixth, Michi-
gan coach Geoff Zahn brought in
closer John Arvai to protect the Wol-
Arvai gave up a single to Horton,
but then canceled him out by picking
him off almost immediately.
Leftfielder Troy Stein knocked
Selander in from third with a grounder
to Beermann, but that was all for the
shutting the Wolverines out, 4-0, for
the victory and his first career com-
The Minnesota runs weren't par-
ticularly due to any potent offense,
either. Three of the four came in the
top of the third inning, as Michigan
righthander Mike Hribernik had his
control go by the boards.
Gopher catcher Matt Skovran lined
smacking a potential grand slam just
foul overthe right field wall -walked
to score Huls, and a Horton chopper
to Beermann drove in Quinlan.
Besco was able to get out of the
inning without damage to his own
earned-run average, as Stein hit a drib-
bler back to the mound, which Besco
tossed back to catcher Mike Haskell
for the force-out at the plate. Besco
The Wolverines are, on average, a
young team, with great potential, and
Zahn said there are no limits on how
much they may improve over the
course of the season.
"I think that this club will keep
getting better," he said. "The more
this team plays the better they will
The weekend leaves the Wolver-