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April 02, 2001 - Image 13

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-04-02

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Batter up!

The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 2, 2001- 5B
Baseball
x' Preview

Young hitters,
By Benjamin Singer
I' ly Sports Writer
re Michigan bascball team (1-3 Big
1n, 10-12 overall) is approaching midsea-
son form, but isn't there yet.
"We obviously haven't won as many
games as we'd like to," senior tri-captain
Scott Tousa said. "But we're getting great
hitching right now.
"We're playing solid defense. We're just
not hitting quite like we reed to. That'll
cume, we just need to wait it nut."
The lineup is a bit depleted after losing
f players -- the most notable being
catcher David Parrish, the New York Yan-
kee's first-round pick in last year's draft.
With some uncertainty sutrounding the
offense, Michigan's expectations for suc-
cess rely on pitching and defense.
"Coming into this season we felt we had
very good pitching," coach Geoff Zahn
said. "We knew we had pretty good defense
in the infield and I think that's proved true.
( pitching at times has shown brilliance.
At other times, we're not always brilliant."
The Wolverines have plenty of experi-
ence on the pitching staff with 1 I returning
from last year's roster, including Bryce
Ralston, the ace of ! 999, who is attempt-
ing to come back from Tommy John
surgery. With a team earned-run average a
bit over 4.00, the hurlers have kept Michi-
gan in plenty of games.
In Michigan's 12 losses, the hitters have

experienced pitchers for 'M'

asked a lot of the pitching staff, scoring an
average of 2.5 runs in those games. Right
now, the batting order is very top heavy as
four of the first five are batting over .300,
but the bottom three are hovering around
the dreaded Mendoza line.
"The hitting we knew is going to be
inexperienced," Zahn said. "We're depend-
ing on guys in the first part of the order to
do it for us. Some of the guys are strug-
gling at the plate. I think we just need that
experience."
Outfielder Jordan Cantalamessa, third-
baseman Brock Koman and secondbase-
man Tousa were looked to all along by
Zahn as the sparks of the offense. But a
couple others have emerged with sweet
strokes in the young season to ease the pain
of the hitting woes.
"I'm very happy the way Nate Wright
and Gino Lollio have come through for us,"
Zahn said. "They've been a good surprise
for us"
Wright, who was a medical redshirt as a
sophomore last year, came in with just five
at-bats in his college career. Now he's lead-
ing the team with four homeruns. Lollio
had much more experience in his freshman
campaign last year, but little to show for it,
batting just .183. This year, he's second to
Wright in homers with three and leads the
team with a .447 batting average.
The key is to let that success trickle
down to the bottom of the order. Hitting
"coach (Chris) Harrison has been working

with us," Tousa said. "I think we're just try-
ing to do a little bit too much right now.
Just trying to make things happen instead
of just letting them happen."
Even with the top of the order hitting the
ball hard, Michigan is in midst of a scoring
funk. Over the past five games, the
Wolverines have not scored more than
three runs in any outing. The emphasis on
improving their hitting is therefore para-
mount.
"I keep thinking we're on the brink of
turning it on and putting something togeth-
er here," Zahn said.
The fight in the Big Ten looks to be wide
open, Zahn said. In his five years as a
coach, five different teams have won the
Big Ten season and the. Big Ten Tourna-
ment, including the 1999 Wolverines. He
expects the parity of the conference to give
Michigan, picked sixth preseason by Base-
ball America, a fighting chance.
"If you don't feel you have a chance for
the championship, you shouldn't take part,"
Zahn said. "We know anything can happen.
We set out this year as one of our goals to
win the Big Ten."
After taking the first Big Ten game
against Iowa, Michigan's conference play
took a nose dive against "enn State with
three losses to the Nittany Lions.
"The season's still very young," Zahn
said. "We have guys with talent, they just
need to relax, hit the way they can and play
the way they can."

DANNY MOLOSOK/Daly
Michigan coach Geoff Zahn blows his bubble, but doesn't want
his Big Ten title hopes to burst.

I Wolverine lineup
rr a

Koman and Lollio
anchor the lineup

BIG TEN STANDINGS
Conference Overall
Team W L W L
Penn State 5 1 12 15
Minnesota 5 2 16 12
Ohio State 3 1 20 5
Purdue 4 2 10 14
Illinois 4 3 13 12
Michigan State 2 4 12 11
Indiana 2 5 16 13
Michigan 1 3 10 12
Northwestern 1 3 11 16
Iowa 1 4 9 10
SCHEDULE
APRIL
3 BowuLNG GREEN 3 p.m.
4 EASTERN MicHIGAN 3 p.m.
6 Indiana 1 p.m.
7 Indiana (DH) 3 p.m.
8 Indiana 1 p.m.
10 Eastern Michigan 3 p.m.
11 Western Michigan 3 p.m.
13 Minnesota 3 p.m.
14 Minnesota (DH) 1 p.m.
15 Minnesota 1 p.m.
22 Siena Heights (DH) 1 p.m.
27 Illinois 3 p.m.
28 Illinois (DH) 1 p.m.
29 Illinois 1 p.m.
MoY
1 NORDoME 7:30 p.m.
2 Detroit 3 p.m.
4 Michigan State 1 p.m.
5 Michigan State (DH)1 p.m.
6 Michigan State 1 p.m.
8 Central Michigan 2 p.m.
9 Central Michigan 2p.m.
11 Ohio State 6:35 p.m.
12 Ohio State (DH) 4:05 p.m.
13 Ohio State 1:05 p.m.
16-19 Big Ten Tournament
25-27 NCAA Regionals
June
1-3 NCAA Super Regionals
8-16 NCAA College World Series
Home games in bold will be played at
Ray Fisher stadium
PENN STATE 9, MICHIGAN 3
MiCHIGAN PENNST
Player AB RHRBI Piayer AB R HRBt
Tousa 2b 32 2 0 Perry I 50 2 2
Catoia essaIf 0 20 smithinct 5 0 2
oman 3b 40 0 2 2 C.Wrieta34 2 2 a
tox c 4 00 aD. Wriehtosba41515
Trios Ah 3 0 1 0 0Rodiod0 4 0 2 3
Wright 1b 300 O sHurey'pr/dh 0150
Jominy ss 3 00 1 0Deenzo2b 4 2 2 3
Lsosrf/c 2 0 10 Netwellc 4 00 0
Otkskci 00 0elndez ss 3 1 1
Ghannamph/rf1 0 0 0 Reohrf 4 2 3 0
Totals 293 us a Totals 3791 09
E -iono(8), LaRosa(7). DP-PennnSitte2. LOB
-PensnStateo OMiiena. 82B - a. Wrgr tt,9
DeRenzo 141 Reohr(3), Cantalarressa (8), Jominy
(1.HRR--Detenzot(1),Koman (3).
IP H R ER BS 5O
Penn State
wasn (ti) 4.01 6 23 3 23 2
Aardsa 2.2 4 0 0 501
Michigan
Brauer (1-1) 2.2 6 5 4 1 2
Pistilli 2.2 9 4 4 2 0
Mcelossey 1.2 0 5 0 0
Umpires - John Johnston (home plate), Dave Burk
(first base), oloe ciyde (third base).
At: Ray L Fisher Stadium
At"endance: n/a
Start:3:25 p..
Time: 2:30

Jordan Car

an Roberts

Bill LaRosa Scott T
oman

By Jeb Singer
DAly Sports Writer
As Michigan thirdbaseman Brock
Koman stepped up to the plate against
Oakland last week, the outfielders
took a step back. Obviously they had
done their homework, because Koman
has been hitting at a torrid pace this
season. So far, he is third on the team
with a .357 average to go along with
his three homeruns. These numbers are
well up from last season's .283 average
with no home runs.
"He's been excellent for us;' Michi-
gan coach GeoffZahn said.
Koman's success this season can be
attributed to the significant amount of
playing time that he received a season
ago and summer ball.
"I am not surprised at all by his
improvements," Zahn said. "He had a
great summer and I knew he'd be ready
to go."
Koman has been rewarded for his
production by hitting out of the third
spot. Usually this spot is reserved for
the team's most reliable hitter, which
Koman is quickly becoming.
"I feel comfortable in the three spot,"
Koman said. "My job is to drive in
runs."
Koman's 21 RBIs at this point in the
season lead the team by far, with I1
being the next highest total.

One possible reason for Koman's
emergence is the productivity of Gino
Lollio hitting behind him in the
cleanup spot.
Lollio leads the team with a .447
average, a tremendous number consid-
ering that he hit just .183 last season.
His 21 hits are better than his total
from all of last season.
Lollio knows that his production is
critical to keeping the offense going.
"The middle of the lineup is very
important because we often step to the
plate with a lot of runners on base,"
Lollio said. "We have to produce."
Although other Michigan players are
hitting above the .300 mark, Lollio and
Koman have been the strongest spots in
an otherwise lackluster lineup. Lollo
knows that the team needs to put more
runs on the board. In three games this
weekend against Penn State, the
Wolverines had just five runs.
"We are strong up and down the
lineup" Lollio said. "We have to pro-
duce if we are going to be a winning
team. We have the talent."
Koman and Lollio have shouldered a
lot of the offensive responsibility this
season, and the rest of the team needs
to come through.
"Yeah, the middle of the lineup is
important," Koman said. "But so is the
top of the lineup and the bottom of the
lineup."

Designates
Hitte

he arms race:Sizing up the Wolverines' staff

The rotation

By Steve Jackson
Daily Sports Writer
The rotation: Nothing :s more
inportant to a team's success on the
mond.
Only the Yankees, Braves and
Marlins have won World Series titles
r the last six years. Each of those
clibs had one of the strongest pitch-
ing staffs in the league.
For Michigan baseball to succeed
in.2001, its pitchers will have to step
ap and carry the team on their shoul-
ders.
No. 1 BoBBY KORECKY
This junior right-hander is the
* ongest cog in the Wolverines'
wheel, A tree workhorse, Korecky
has pitched four-straight complete
games for Michigan. Each week
Korecky will stand against the best
the Big Ten has to offer.
'He is a competitor with great
speed and three effective pitches,"
Michigan pitching coach Steve Fos-

ter said.
No. 2 NIcK ALEXANDER
One of the Wolverines' tri-captains
this year, Alexander brings veteran
leadership to the staff. The lefty
doesn't have the strongest velocity
on the team, but relies on location
and experience to get batters out.
"He's a real gamer," Foster said.
"He has had two good starts and two
average ones so far this year."
The senior has earned-himself a
permanent spot leading off Saturday
doubleheaders for Michigan.
"The top two spots are as strong as
you'll see in the Big Ten," Foster
said.
No.3 JIM BRAUER
Last year's Mr. Baseball in Indi-
ana, Brauer brings a young vibrant
energy to the staff.
"For a freshman to be where he is
right now, that's impressive. You
can't coach that," Foster said.
Brauer relies heavily on a slider
which Foster calls his "bread-and-

butter" pitch. "lie reliesc
,No. 4 Tim LEVEQU E a very strongc
A sophomore right-hander from All four cot
Northridge Calif., Leveque opened in relief durin
the year with 17.1-straight scoreless with spot star:
innings. That was good enough to CLOSER JEt
secure him a spot in the Big Ten At 6-foot-6
rotation - at least for right now. is an impress
"The No. 3 and 4 spots could vary. But the key fo
some from week to week," Foster be winning th
said. "But these two have done well ball games.
and they deserve to pitch." "Jeff's ERA
LONG RELIEF: VINCE PISTILLI, into this we'
RICH HILL, KIRK TAYLOR AND throwing theb
BOBBY WOOD In his last o
Hill and Taylor are both tall left- the side to set
ies, but they have very different the season.
pitching patterns. Hill, like the STAFF
senior Pistilli and junior Wood, is a "We have a
power pitcher. ship and your
"They all have good velocity," it's a healthy
Foster said. "They're in the high 80s "We have be
to low 90s." (Big Ten) pit
Taylor, on the other hand, really we're hoping 1
needs to use the whole plate to make "What we a
up for a less than amazing fastball. consistency."
SWEEP
Continued from Page 11B
"Both Wrights (Donnie and
Chris) and Netwall - they know
what they're doing at the plate,"
Zahn said. "They're experienced.
If they get a pitch they can hit,
they drive it."
Michigan had its chance in the
bottom of the seventh. A two-out
ti , $ Al} :vtn-o rally, aided by a passed ball,
allowed shortstop Bill LaRosa to
drive in a run. Two runners were
left on base as Jake Fox struck out
to end the game.
The second half of the double-
- header was a slugfest for the Nit-
tany Lions. Brauer did not
complete the third, allowing five
DANNYMOLS0N0I/Daiy runs on six hits. Vince Pistilli
State. He hit his came on in relief, but did not fare
much better, allowing four runs in

on changing speed and
changeup," Foster said.
uld see extended action
g Big Ten games along
ting during the week.
FF TRZos
and 225 pounds, Trzos
ive physical specimen.
or him as the closer will
e mental battles late in
is high, (8.31 heading
ekend) but he's been
ball great," Foster said.
uting, Trzos struck out
cure his second save of
combination of leader-
ng competitive guys -
mixture," Foster said.
en in the top four in
ching all season, and
to be No. 1.
are really looking for is

No. a BoBBY KORECKY
The junior from Saline is an
All-America candidate this
year, and ranks sixth
among Michigan's career
save leaders.
No. 2 Nice ALEXANDER
The senior tri-captain is
wearing the number 36 this
season -his sixth jersey
number asa Wolverine. He
was last year's team MVP.
No. 3 TiM LEVEQUE
Leveque is pitching bril-
liantly sofar this season,
having allowed no earned
runs in 17.1 innings. He
proudly boasts that he was
at Dodger Stadium for Kirk
Gibson's 1988 World
Series homerun.

Bobby Korecky

No.4 JiM BRAuER
This freshman All-America
candidate was Indiana Mr.
Baseball in 2000, and was
drafted by the Expos last
year.

DANNYMoLOSHoK/Daily

2.2 innings.
Despite the problems on the
mound, Zahn believes the problem
for the Wolverines is at the plate.
"I think the biggest thing right
now is we have young hitters,"
Zahn said. "And they're struggling
at the plate. They have to get used
to the way (Big Ten pitchers) are
pitching to them."
Friday night was the best
chance for Michigan to come
away with a victory. With a 1-1 tie
going into the ninth, Bobby
Korecky allowed back-to-back
doubles to Netwall and Melendez,
which scored one run. Dan
McCall pitched for Penn State,
and had five strikeouts in the
complete game, including the last
two of the game to preserve the 2-
1 win. Michigan's only run came,
on a homerun by Fox, the first of
his career. L

History lesson

Michigan won its two national championships in 1953 and 1962, but
its history goes back further and, extends to the present day. Below is
a list of notable Wolverines who excelled both in Ann Arbor and in the
majors.
Retired numbers
Michigan has four retired numbers -44, 33, 11 and 1. They belong to
Ray Fisher, Don Lund, Bill Freehan and Moby Benedict, respectively..
Fisher is the namesake of the current stadium in which the Wolverines
play. Lund and Freehan both played in the big league. Lund for
Dodgers, Browns and Tigers, and Freehan for Detroit.
Major League Hall of Famers
George Sisler played for the Wolverines from 1913 to 1915. His 257
hits in 1920, while playing for the St. Louis Browns, is still a record.
He was electeq to the Hall in 1939. Former Michigan coach Branch
Rickey is also in the Hall, for his work as an owner. As an executive of
the Brooklyn Dodgers, Rickey is responsible for bringing Jackie Robin-
son into the majors, thereby breaking the long-standing color barrier.
He also was the first to develop the farm system, which he accom-
plished in both Brooklyn and St. Louis.
Former Wolverines in the majors
Michigan currently has eight former players in major league baseball.
Kelly Dransfeldt, Scott Kamienieki, Barry Larkin, Mike Matheny, Steve
Ontiveros and Brian Simmons are active. Joe Jones of the Pirates and
Leon Roberts of the Devil Rays are both coaches,

9 shman catcher Jake Fox makes the play at the plate in Friday's game against Penn
st collegiate homerun in the game.

4

j

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