The Michigan Daily - SPORTSMonday - April 14, 1997 - 58
Michigan baseball alone in first
place, braces for final stretch
By Sharat Raju
Daily Sports Writer
The Michigan baseball team is now in first
place in the Big Ten. Still, this is no time to
At this point of the season last year, the
Wolverines were threatening to take first place
at 9-3 in the conference.
And last season, Michigan dropped eight of
its last 16 conference games - along with two
straight losses to Penn State in the Big Ten
playoffs - to end the season in fourth.
"This team is a different team than last
year," Michigan coach Geoff Zahn said. "This
team has been around a little bit."
Although Michigan did finish with its best
conference mark since 1989, the Wolverines
had a shot to win the conference. So what
caused the wheels to fall off last season?
"The killer was Ohio State," Zahn said.
"Ohio State, to me last year, had the best tal-
ent in the conference. They played very, very
well against us."
The Wolverines hit an ugly, seven-loss
stretch last season to end their shot at the title,
including being swept by the Buckeyes.
Zahn's observation about Ohio State's talent
proved to be correct. This season, the
Buckeyes have been ranked in the top 25 at
Last season's slide came at an inopportune
moment down the stretch.
"I know we didn't lose focus," Zahn said.
"Ohio State just beat us."
Now the Wolverines are in a similar point in
this season, but last season's stretch-run
demise might still be on the player's minds.
"I don't have to remind them that they have
to keep playing," Zahn said. "They're not
going to stop playing hard."
One distinct feature of this season has been
Michigan's ability to come from behind. More
often than not, the Wolverines have innings
which either put away the opposition or give
Michigan the lead.
In yesterday's game, a six-run third inning
put Michigan ahead. A six-run second did the
same for the Wolverines during Friday's victo-
The Wolverines had a 15-run inning in the
opening Big Ten series of the season against
defending conference champion Penn State,
along with an 11-run explosion. Michigan put
11 on the board against Maine earlier. In.
countless games, the Wolverines have posted
at least four runs in a single inning.
Their exciting, single-inning outbursts seem
to be a combination of timely hitting and a
breakdown in the opposing team's fielding.
During the aforementioned six-run third
against the Wildcats, the Wolverines scored on
six hits and two errors.
"This is the exciting part of the season,"
The Wolverines have three conference
weekend series remaining - Indiana,
Michigan State and last season's spoiler, Ohio
The offense has come through for the
Wolverines all season long. If the pitching can
hold up, Michigan has a very realistic shot at
a Big Ten championship.
It might all come down to the final series.
Indiana has a quality team which should make
for a good series, but Michigan State is occu-
pying the cellar. The final series of the regular
season may be the decisive one for the
Wolverines. And maybe for the championship.
I don't have to
remind them that
they have to kreep
playing. They're not
,going to stop playing'
- Geoff Zahn
Michigan baseball coach
"This is a group of guys that have never
won," Zahn said. "We're going to find out
what they have.
"I've told them all along that they have to
keep working to get better-every single day,
and we'll see where that'll take us.'
6 igan's Mike Cervenak went 74or45 with three RBIs to help lead the Wolverines in
sweep over Norhtwestern.
Blue's Sanborn finds
By Tracy Sandler "I'd like to say that I can h
D Sports Writer any ballpark, but I can't," Sa
obody said it was going to be easy. long as I can hit the alleys a
After making the Michigan baseball team as holes where they are, and can,
a walk-on his freshman year, sophomore Dan ple in, that's what my strength
Sanborn was cut from the team during his sec- One of Sanborn's biggest
ond year. the team is his ability to ste
Due to hard work and a lot of improvement, needed.
he has rejoined the Wolverines, splitting time Because he and Scales share
with sophomore Bobby Scales as Michigan's ignated hitter, Sanborn is n
designated hitter, batting .380. every day, sometimes going a
"In '96, when I first came here, I had a out seeing action.
month to look at him," Michigan coach Geoff "It's very, very big to have g
*n said. "He didn't throw very well, he did- that can be out of the lineup
n't swing the bat well and we didn't think he and they don't get down, and
could help us at that time. He accepted that, then you put them in and they
and he went out and worked very hard on his Zahn said.
own." "That's tough to do. It's ha
At the end of the summer, Sanborn called role, and he has accepted th
Zahn, asking him whether he should try out for done very well."
the team again. No matter how often Sanbon
"I thought this is still something I really ing, the amount of time he p
wanted to do," Sanborn said. "It wasn't going does not change. Accordin
to hurt if I tried out, and I got cut. I tried out, roommate - rightfielder I
* my love for the game was still there, so I Sanborn usually gets to prac
put my heart and soul into it." can get in some extra work.
After seeing Sanborn play over the summer, "He wants to get in as much
Zahn noticed a significant growth in his ability Besco said.
at the plate. "He's working for a startin
"I said, 'If you really want to play, then I'll not locked in like other peopl
give you an honest evaluation,"' Zahn said. Part of the reason for his
"He had improved, in my estimation, quite a Sanborn's belief that 100 perc
bit., into anything that he does.
"So, he made the team, and we really like his "If you're going to do somethi
swing. He's worked hard, and he's an integral thing you want to do, you don't
of this team right now." Sanborn said. "You put everyth
eing an integral part of the team means done and to do it the way you w
coming through with clutch hits when needed. Along with hard work come
A team needs more than just a power hitter. It orities. Last season, Sanborn
needs a player who can drive in runs by getting baseball. It was school.
the ball to drop. "Last year, during the winter
In this weekend's series against everything," said Sanborn, a i
Northwestern, Sanborn went 3-for-7, with two of the dean's list. "I wanted to
RBI and scored two runs. put baseball on the back bur
. . . .t .
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - ..'T
tough road leads to rewards
Continued from Page 1B
it the ball out of
anborn said. "As
nd I can hit the
drive some peo-
p it up whenever
e the role of des-
ot in the lineup
few games with-
uys on your team
for a few games,
they stay up, and
're ready to play,"
ard to be in that
at role, and he's
rn is or isn't play-
puts into practice
ng to Sanborn's
Derek Besco -
ctice early, so he
work as he can,"
ng position. He's
constant effort is
ent should be put
ping, and it's some-
do it half-hearted,"
ing into it to get it
ant to do it."
es a setting of pri-
's priority wasn't
, I kept lifting and
stay active, but I
ner, and I tried to
Michigan's Kirk Beermann and the rest of the Wolverines swept Northwestem in four games to wekend
to sit atop of the Big Ten standings.
around to score on a double by Derek
Besco. The game remained 1-0 until the
sixth, when the Wildcats tied the game
with an unearned run. Williamson
reached on an error by Cervenak and
scored on a double by Andrew Kirsh.
The Wolverines wasted no time
answering. Derek Besco was hit by the
first pitch of the bottom of the sixth. His
brother Brian followed by ripping a dou-
ble down the rightfield line, scoring
Derek, and re-establishing Michigan's
Michigan freshman pitcher Brian
Cranson (4-2) was impressive in his first
career Big Ten start, allowing only four
hits and no walks in six innings. He was
lifted after Ollie Dunn led off the seventh
with a single. Steketee retired the next
three Wildcats to earn his fourth save.
"I pitched in two other Big Ten games,
and I have been feeling more comfort-
able every time out," Cranson said.
"Today I felt I had great control and got
ahead of the hitters, and that was key."
In the nightcap Saturday, the Wildcats
got out to an early 1-0 lead, and for
awhile it appeared as though that might
be the only scoring. Michigan's Pete
Martay and Northwestern's Chris
Hargan were both sharp.
The Wolverines finally got on the
scoreboard with some clutch hitting in
the fifth. With one out, Sanborn-pinch
hitting for catcher Andrew Miller - was
hit by a pitch. After Brian Bush flied out
to center, Cervenak singled sending
Sanborn to third. Scales tied the game
with a single back through the box.
Northwestern coach Paul Stevens
brought in Ben Dodd, a lefthander, to
face the left-handed Jason Alcaraz. That
backfired, however, as Alcaraz sent a
base hit into right, scoring Cervenak
with the go-ahead run.
The Wolverines picked up an insur-
ance run in the sixth due to the hustle of
Brian Besco. Besco led off the inning
with what appeared to be a routine sin-
gle up the middle, but he rounded first
and kept going, beating the throw into
second with a head-first slide.
Brian Kalczynski sacrificed Besco to
third with a bunt on a 1-2 count,and
Kirk Beermann followed with a chopper
to third that was so high, Besco was
crossing the plate by the time Wildcats'
pitcher, John Seaman, fielded it.
"In the sixth inning when we scored,
that was abig,bigrun forus,"Zahn said.
"That kind of broke their backs."
Steketee replaced Martay to pitch the
seventh and picked up his second save
of the day.
"We worked hard for these wins.
They played us very, very tough." Zahn
said. "We did some things right at the
right times, and that's what makes win-
The Wolverines started the weekend
with an offensive explosion on Friday.
They sent 11 men to the plate during a
six-run second inning on their way to a
Kalahar started a string of five con-
secutive hits with a run-scoring single.
Bush followed with a two-run double,
then Cervenak doubled. Sanborn's RBI
work on my studies more than anything."
Sanborn's various successes are credited more
to strong determination than to talent alone.
"I've exceled at pretty much in almost
everything I've attempted to do in life,"
Sanborn said. "It's not because I've been gift-
ed with the best talent in the world. I've been
gifted with the determination and dedication
to try and succeed and do whatever it takes to
Michigan pitchers turn
quality starts over the weekend
By Kevin Kasiborsid
Daily Sports Writer
With the exception of Matt Herr and
closer Tyler Steketee, the Michigan
bullpen had a relaxing weekend.
Brian Steinbach pitched a complete
game on Friday, and Brian Cranson
and Pete Martay each worked six
innings on Saturday. Cranson made the
start for J.J. Putz, who
is out with an elbow
starters were so good,
Steketee was the only % 4dt
reliever who even had
to warm up over the.
first two days of the
weekend. He worked
the seventh inning in
both of Saturday's games, earning his
might have been the best choice at the
time, to put Tyler in. He did a great job
to close out the game."
Ryan Kelley struggled a little in the
first inning of his start yesterday, and
although he gave up five runs, he left
with the lead and was in position to
pick up the win.
"I don't know if he got tired or
what," Zahn said. "But he started to
get the ball up, and we had to get him
out of there"
Mike Hribernik did not have good
outing in relief of Kelley, allowing
Northwestern to retake the lead. But
Herr and Steketee held the Wildcats
scoreless over the final 3 2/3
innings to secure a 10-8 Michigan
DRIZZLE DELAY: Game one on
Saturday - which started at 1:30, a
where the temperature inside the rink
was higher than it was outside A few
of the Saturday afternoon free skaters
were even spotted wearing short-
Cranson said the cold weather didn't
have an effect on his performance.
"My last year in high school, I
pitched a couple of games in the snow,
so I am pretty much used to it by now,"
said Cranson, who is a native of
GET 'EM WHILE THEY'RE HOT: Fans
at Saturday's doubleheader who were
banking on a lunch from the conces-
sion stand between games were proba-
bly disappointed, unless they were in
line in front of Northwestern coach
Stevens bought out the concession
stand's supply of hot dogs and pretzels.