The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 13, 1998 - SB
Games played at
Michigan 3, Minnesota 1
. , i
'Adversity' helps Michigan win Big Ten nailbiters
Michigan shortstop Scott Tousa
scored from second base on Bobby
Scales' base hit with two outs, in the
fourth inning of Friday's game. Tousa
ignored third base coach Chris
Harrison's stop sign and scored the
tying run. The very next hitter, Jason
Alcaraz, drove in the go-ahead run
and Michigan led the majority of the
"We're paying our best ball of the
year right now. We're starting to steam-
roll. I think we'll be pretty tough to
beat the rest of the year."
- Michigan catcher Mick Kalahar
after the Wolverines heat MinnesotaJor
the third consecutive time, this past
Big Ten Standings
By Andy Latack
Daily Sports Writer
You could tell it was going to be a good weekend in Fisher
The Michigan baseball team started off its four-game series
with Minnesota on a sweet note Friday. The Wolverines did what
they had yet to do this year - win a close game in the Big Ten.
And then they did it again the very next day, hanging two one-
run defeats on the Gophers in the series' first two games, right-
ing. the sinking Michigan ship and clawing their way into the
middle of the Big Ten standings in the process.
After opening the conference season with four lop-sided
games at Illinois in late March, just one of which finished in the
Wolverines' favor, Michigan has had trouble winning close ones
The following weekend against Ohio State, the Wolverines
lost three games by a total of four runs. Two one-run losses
came on the same day in a heartbreaking doubleheader in
So did Michigan coach Geoff Zahn alter the lineup, looking
for guys who could get the job done in close games?
Not at all. The same cast of players that had difficulty closing
out the tight games against the Buckeyes was on the field this
weekend against Minnesota.
And that's just the way Zahn wanted it.
"I think adversity builds character," Zahn said. "This team
has grown and learned from that."
Indeed, some of the Wolverines on the field in this weekend's
triumph have endured their share of adversity, especially against
There was starting pitcher Brian Berryman, who walked four
consecutive Buckeyes in the first game of the twinbill, forcing
in the first run in Ohio State's 2-1 victory.
There was closer Tyler Steketee, who gave up the game-winning
hit to Ohio State catcher Tom Durant with two outs in the bottom
of the final inning, giving the Buckeyes an emotional 3-2 victory.
And there was left fielder Jason Alcaraz, who went a com-
bined 3-for-16 against the Buckeyes, typifying the hitting woes
that allowed few Michigan runs on the scoreboard all weekend.
But from the very first game against the Gophers this week-
end, it was clear that Berryman, Steketee, Alcaraz and the rest
of the Wolverines would have no problems putting the nail in
Berryman was effective on Friday, allowing four runs in an
eight-inning outing. After allowing three quick runs in the third,
the junior gave up just four hits the rest of the way. Except for
one walk allowed, he retired the Minnesota batters in order in
his final three innings, before bowing out in the ninth.
And when Berryman finally faltered and gave up two hits
with no outs in the final inning, Steketee was there to preserve
the lead, and the game. After throwing a wild pitch to the first
batter he faced, the senior forced Minnesota clean-up hitter
Craig Selander - leading the Gophers with I1 home runs and
43 RBI - to ground into the game-ending double play. Steketee
would pitch just as well in the second game, getting four con-
secutive outs to post his second save of the weekend.
Alcaraz also had a big day in the Big Ten home opener, only
his big events took place in the batters box. The junior blasted a
two-run, opposite field homer in the third inning, cutting the
Gophers' early lead to 3-2.
Alcaraz went 2-for-4 with 3 RBI on the day, and finished the
series batting 7-for-16 with 5 RBI.
The Wolverines appeared relaxed in front of the season-high
home crowd, and they played so well, it reminded Berryman of
another great team - last year's Wolverines, the regular season
"We hit the ball, we took extra bases and we were real aggres-
sive," Berryman said. "That's how we played last year, and that's
how we won. I think it's starting to build."
Closer Steketee shuts door
on M' early-season woes
By Andy Latack
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan closer Tyler Steketee had a great
weekend, but don't ask him to brag about it.
The senior from Jenison, Mich., says all of the
credit for his late-inning mastery of Minnesota
goes to his defense.
It's easy to see his point. The Michigan
defense, which led the Big Ten in fielding per-
centage coming into this past weekend, has
been a stalwart in a season that has had its
share of inconsistency.
Although they committed three errors in this
weekend's four-game series, the Wolverines
have made just 32 errors this season - com-
pared to a whopping 56 by their opponents.
But Steketee deserves his share of the credit
Last year, Steketee was exceptional in the
closer role, tying a Michigan single season
record with 10 saves. He didn't blow a single
save opportunity, and his performance earned
him a spot on the all-Big Ten team.
His 23 appearances also topped the team last
year, showing how often Michigan coach Geoff
Zahn depended on the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder.
Steketee earned his last two saves against
Illinois in the Big Ten playoffs, so the big
right-hander is used to coming in when the
stakes are high.
But this year, things weren't going quite
according to plan for Steketee. To begin with,
he suffered the first blown save of his career in
a February 21 outing against Baylor.
Then came the debacle against Ohio State.
Relieving Brian Steinbach in the third game,
and entering the game with a 2-1 lead, two outs
and the bases loaded, Steketee struggled with
his control, walking in the game-tying run.
Then, with the outcome of the game hanging
in the balance, he gave up the game-winning
hit in a crushing Michigan loss.
But Steketee has fought back.
Even in his disappointing performance
against Baylor, Steketee recovered, striking out
the side in the ninth - after giving up two
homers to tie the game. The game ended that
Continued from Page 11B
Michigan, which had little to lose and a
whole lot to gain, established an aggressive
tempo early on in the series. Trailing 3-2 in the
fourth inning Friday, catcher Mick Kalahar was
gunned down at the plate as he tried to score
from first base on shortstop Scott Tousa's one-
But on the very next play, Tousa ran right
through third base coach Chris Harrison's stop
sign and scored the game-tying run on Bobby
Scales' two-out single.
"I just put my head down and kept on run-
ning," Tousa said. "By the time I saw the sign,
it was too late to stop. Staying aggressive and
going after the other team is what we needed to
Michigan took the lead on the next play and
stayed ahead of the Gophers for most of the
weekend. Junior Brian Berryman (3-2) picked
up the win Friday, though he didn't show his
best stuff, walking six Minnesota batters in
But Michigan pitchers were in complete
control by Saturday.
Left-hander Bryan Cranson evened his
record at 3-3 with five innings of scoreless ball
in the early game, before Tousa committed two
errors at short and Zahn called on Steketee to
extinguish the fire.
Senior Brian Steinbach went the distance in
the nightcap, and gave his teammates a chance
to finally sit back and relax.
way due to rain.
And just like that February day in Texas,
Steketee has battled back from the disaster at
Ohio State. In this weekend's crucial series
against Minnesota, he notched saves in the
first two games, bringing his season total to
Steketee did not give up a hit during the
And that evening in Columbus is the furthest
thing from his mind nowadays.
"Anytime something like that happens, I just
try to forget about it," Steketee said.
"I came out the next day and wanted to pitch
When Steketee struggles, so does Michigan.
As the person Zahn relies on to finish off close
games. Steketee is crucial to the Wolverines'
success in tight contests.
At the same time, when Steketee is on,
Michigan is a very dangerous team. The start-
ing rotation is coming into its own, allowing
just 12 earned runs in 26 innings of work this
With the starters pitching the majority of the
game and then handing the ball to Steketee -
eliminating any possibility of a shaky middle
relief performance - Michigan is very tough
"I have a lot of confidence in Tyler," said
starter Bryan Berryman, who was relieved by
Steketee after eight strong innings Friday, lead-
ing to Steketee's first save of the weekend.
"He's going to come in and close out the game,
so I don't mind handing the ball over to him
And with the pitchers clicking, Michigan is
now winning the close ones and suddenly finds
itself back in contention in the Big Ten.
"I think that's our character as a team,"
Steketee said. "We keep battling and going
after guys. We've had a couple bad breaks that
haven't gone our way, but I think that's a trib-
ute to our guys staying with it."
If Michigan - and especially Steketee -
stays with it,the Wolverines could make some
noise in the Big Ten after all,
Big Ten scoreboard
Game one played on Friday, games
two and three on Saturday, and
game four yesterday.
Illinois at Ohio State
Game 1: Illinois 2, OHIO STATE 1
Game 2: Illinois 2, OHIO STATE 1
Game 3: OHIO STATE 3, Illinois 2
Game 4: OHIO STATE 8, Illinois 5
Northwestern at Penn State
Game 1: Wildcats 20, PENN St. 18
Game 2: Wildcats 5, PENN ST. 4
Game 3: PENN ST. 8, Wilcats 5
Game 4: PENN ST. 14, Wildcats 11
Indiana at Michigan State
Game 1: MICHIGAN ST. 8, Indiana 4
Game 2: Indiana 2, MICHIGAN ST. 0
Game 3: MICHIGAN ST. 2, Indiana 0
Game 4: Indiana 3, MICHIGAN ST. 0
Iowa at Purdue
Game 1: PURDUE 12, Iowa 7
Iowa 8, PURDUE 0
Iowa 8, PURDUE 7
Iowa 8, PURDUE 2
All times EST
HNmegaens in CAPS~
April 14 April17 April 18
at Bowling MICHIGAN at Michigan
Green STATE State
3 p.m. 3 p.m. N.
April 19 April 21 April 30
MICHIGAN vs. Notre CENTRAL
STATE Dame MICHIGAN
3 p.m. 7 p.m. 3 p~m.
Dobis L, 3-3
AB R H BI
4 0 0 0
3 0 1 0
2 0 0 0
3 0 0 0
2 1 1 0
334 7 4
Player AB R H BI
Scales 2b 5 2 3 1
Alcaraz If 4 1 2 3
Cervenak 3b 4 1 2 0
Q.Bescorf 3 0 30
B. Besco lb 2 0 0 1
Bobedact 3 0 0 0
Bush ph 1 00 0
Sanborn dh 4 0 0 0
Kalahar c 4 0 2 0
Tousa ss 4 1 2 0
Totals 34 514 5
H R ER BB SO
14 4 5 2 3
o 1 0 0 2
7 3 2 6" 5
0 1 0 1 0
Michigan closer Tyler Steketee revived his season this weekend with saves Friday and Saturday. The
Wolverines beat Minnesota three times, winning two of the games by one run.
Michigan finds unlikely
heroes in Ri ousa
Berryman W, 3-2 8
Steketee S, 3rd 1
By Jacob Wheeler
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan baseball coach Geoff Zahn received
some unexpected gifts this weekend. But he didn't
find them hidden in the stands during Saturday
morning's Easter egg hunt at Ray Fisher Stadium.
All Zahn's presents were opened on the field, as
his surging Wolverines took three of four games
from second-place Minnesota, and improved to 5-7
in the Big Ten.
But a number of Michigan's key contributions
came from the most unlikely of sources.
Robbie Reid, Michigan's reliable point guard and
three-point shooter but often-neglected designated
hitter and pitcher, finally appeared in the lineup for
Saturday's first game. And he made the most of the
rare start, collecting two hits - the first of which
set up Michigan's decisive three-run second inning.
Reid didn't start game two, though. He's on a
team this season with considerably more depth than
Brian Ellerbe's eight-man basketball squad. Zahn
has a surplus of hitters on the baseball roster, and
the junior was only one of four in the designated hit-
ter slot this weekend.
But once again, Reid responded like an e eryday
player when called upon. He delivered a inch-hit
handles Michigan's varying pitching corps well and
he holds opposing baserunners at bay with his arm.
But until this past weekend, the senior wasn't
doing much with the bat. In fact, Kalahar carried a
humble .172 average into the weekend and he did-
n't have a single extra base hit.
The catcher did an admirable job coaxing his
pitchers through four games against a tough Ohio
State lineup last weekend. Still, the Wolverines only
came away with one win because they just weren't
scoring enough runs. Not enough Michigan batters
were hitting the ball well.
So Kalahar went 6-for-I1I this past weekend, in
addition to handling the tools of ignorance. He
drove in a key run with his double in Saturday's 3-2
victory, and he also raised his batting average 60
"I can't say enough about Mick," Zahn said. "He
does a great job with the pitchers, he'll throw some
guys out. It's a bonus for him to swing the bat, but
it seems like come conference time he does a good
Tousa, on the other hand, has been pounding the
ball all season. The freshman raised his average to
.360 with a 5 for 10 performance this weekend, and
he motivated the Wolverines with his fearless
Player AS R H BI
Arltc t 3 0 1 0
Scanlon 3b 3 0 0 0
Quinlan1 b 3 1 0 0
Groebner It 2 0 1 1
Selander rf 3 0 1 1
Holthaus dh 2 0 0 0
Horton ph 1 0 0 0
Brosseau 2b 2 0 1 0
Negen c 3 01 0
Devore ss 0 0 0 0
Egan ph 1 10 0
Brosseauph 1 0 0 0
Totals 24 2S 1
Pautz L. 3-3 6
Player AB R H BI
Scales2b 30 10
Alcaraz if 3 0 1 0
Cervenak3b3 0 0 0
D. Besco rf 2 1 0 0
BBesco1b 30 1 0
Bobeda cf 3 0 1 0
Reid dh 3 1 2 0
Kalahar c 21 1 1
Tousa ss 2 0 1 1
24 3 8 2
H R ER BB SO
8 3 3 1 1
5 2 0 2 0
0 0 0 0 0
Cranson W, 3-3
Steketee S. 4th
Player AB R H BI Player AB R H Bt
Art f 3 0 0 0 Scales 2b 2 1 0 1
Scanlon3b 3 1 1 0 Alcarazif 4 0 1 1
Ouinian lb 3 0 0 0 Cervenak 3b 3 0 1 1
Selander rf 3 0 1 1 D.Besco rf 31 1 0
GroebnertIf 3 0 1 0 B Bescoib 3 0 0 0
Norton dh 3 1 1 0 Parrish dh 2 0 0 0
Brosseau ss 2 0 0 0 Reidph 1 1 1 0
Devore2b 3 0 1 1 Bushcf 2 2 1 1
Negen c 2 0 0 0 Kalahar c 1 1 1 0
Tousa ss 2 1 2 1
Totals 252 s 2 Totals 2378 5
Michigan left fielder Jason Alcaraz went 7-for-16
against Minnesota this weekend. He hit a two-run
homer Friday to spark Michigan to its first of
three victories. -
Continuing the trend, Minnesota came out
yesterday and prevented a series sweep. The
slightly altered Gopher batting lineup recorded
10 hits and scored six runs. First baseman
Shupe L. 1-1
H R ER BB SO
Steinbach W, 2.5 7
4 2 2 1 5