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April 03, 2006 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-04-03

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The Michigan Daily - SportsMonday - April 3, 2006 - 5B

SUICIDE S QUEEZE

Baseball

Friday's Game 1:
NORTHWESTERN 2
LP: Andrew Smith (2-4)
MICHIGAN 6
WP: Craig Murray (3-1)

Friday's Game 1:
NORTHWESTERN 5
WP: Dan Brauer (1-1)
MICHIGAN 0
LP: Paul Hammond (1-3)

Friday's Game 1:
NORTHWESTERN 4
WP:George Kontos (1-5)
MICHIGAN 2
LP: Drew Taylor (1-3)

Friday's Game 1:
NORTHWESTERN 5
WP: Julio Siberio (1-0)
MICHIGAN 4
LP: Adam Abraham (2-2)

A Comedy of Errors
Michigan's defense still a
problem at The Fish

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Chris Fetter
Michigan
The redshirt freshman stepped up in the
biggest way on Saturday. With the team
trailing the Wildcats 4-1, Fetter did all he
could to keep Michigan in the game. He
pitched four perfect innings, striking out four
in the process.
NOTABLE QUOTABLE
"What better guy to have in there
than your closer, to close out the
first inning?"
- Michigan coach Rich Maloney in
reference to starting pitcher Adam Abraham.
Michigan wasn't able to get out of the first
inning without giving up at least one run in any
game this weekend.

By David Murray
Daily Sports Writer
Michigan's performance this weekend
resembled many first dates - full of mistakes
and missed opportunities.
Against Northwestern, the Wolverines looked
nervous and had difficulty closing the deal. In
the four-game series they committed five errors
and stranded 27 runners on base.
"One thing we preach really strongly is
playing good defense, and we didn't play good
defense," Michigan coach Rich Maloney said.
"If you don't play good defense and you're fac-
ing some good pitchers and the wind is playing
like it is, it's going to be more about who gets
the big hit."
In Friday's game, the Maize and Blue played
flawless defense and took advantage of most of
its scoring opportunities, winning easily, 6-2. But
Saturday's doubleheader was a different story.
After a few poorly played innings, Saturday's
date with the Wildcats turned south quickly.
In the first inning of the first game, both third
baseman A.J. Scheidt and pitcher Paul Ham-
mond committed throwing errors in a five-run
Northwestern spurt. Then, with a chance to
chip into the deficit in the fifth, junior shortstop
Leif Mahler struck out looking with the bases
loaded.
If Mahler's at-bat was disappointing, three
similar at-bats in the third game left the Wolver-
ines dumbfounded.
With Michigan trailing 4-2 in the bottom of
the fourth, the bases were juiced, this time with
no outs. Scheidt came to the plate overanxious
to drive in a few runs and swung at the first
pitch, popping it up to the shortstop. The next

batter, second baseman Kevin Cislo, took a third
strike with his bat on his shoulders. Then, with
two outs and three Wolverines begging to run
across home plate, shortstop Jason Christianson
flied out to centerfield.
Those six runners over two games were just a
few of the chances in which Michigan failed to
capitalize. It left a total of 16 ducks on the pond
in the 14 innings played on Saturday and lost
both games by a combined 9-2 score.
"We needed the big hit all weekend," Scheidt
said. "We would have runners on base, and we
just wouldn't get the big hit. So, in a different
series, a different world or different day we get
that big hit. We come out of this series three out
of four or four out of four (wins)."
Despite its meager offensive output on Sat-
urday, Michigan swung the bats well enough
to win on Sunday. But they had sweaty hands
while in the field, tallying three errors in another
disappointing loss. The most detrimental error
came in the first inning, with freshman pitcher
Adam Abraham bobbling leadoff hitter Jake
Owens's bunt. The freshman mistake rattled
Abraham, who went on to give up five runs in
the inning and left the game before recording an
out. The Wolverines went on to lose 5-4, even
though Northwestern's defense (four errors) was
worse.
Michigan, which was amongst the nation's
leaders in fielding percentage (980) before it
played its home opener last Friday, has commit-
ted 17 errors in the last 12 games and dropped
its fielding percentage to .967.
"Since we've come home we've just fielded
porous, and it's just strange," Maloney said.
"You talk about slumps, it's a fielding slump at
a bad time."

0

BY THE NUMBERS
Number of runs allowed by the
Michigan bullpen over 13 innings
during this weekend's series.

'M' STAT LEADERS

Home runs

Doug Pickens

5

BEN SIMON/Daily
Jason Christian tries to field a ground ball. Michigan had trouble playing solid defense all weekend.

Mediocre first innings pose a problem for Blue

Runs Pickens 21
Hits Leif Mahler 27
RBI Pickens 19
Average Mahler .370
BIG TEN STANDINGS
Team Big Ten Overall
1. Ohio State 3-1 15-5
Michigan State 3-1 12-10
Northwestern 3-1 6-16
4. Illinois 2-2 13-8
Purdue 2-2 13-8
Minnesota 2-2 12-10
Penn State 2-2 6-18
8. Michigan 1-3 12-10
Indiana 1-3 8-16
Iowa 1-3 11-9
AROUND THE BIG TEN
Friday's results:
MICHIGAN 6, Northwestern 4
ILLINOIS 9, Purdue 7
MICHIGAN STATE 17, Indiana 7
Ohio State 12, IowA 5
Penn State 7, MINNESOTA 3
Saturday's results:
Northwestern 5, 4 MICHIGAN O, 2
ILLINOIS 3, 4 Purdue 2, 10
MICHIGAN STATE 2, 7 Indiana 1, 12
IowA 7, 4 Ohio State 1, 6
Penn State 12, 0 MINNESOTA 2, 5
Sunday's results:
Northwestern 5, MICHIGAN 4
Purdue 9, ILLINoIs 4
MICHIGAN STATE 9, Indiana 8 (10)
Ohio State 15, IowA 1
MINNESOTA 5, Penn State 0
*Home teams in caps
DIAMOND GRADES
The four Daily baseball writers will grade the team
on four different aspects of the game each weekend.
Sure, baseballs may be simple, but we're classic.

By Colt Rosensweig
Daily Sports Writer
If the first inning of every game this week-
end could be erased from the record, the
Michigan baseball team might have gone 4-
0 instead of 1-3 in its weekend series against
Northwestern.
The Wildcats scored 13 first-inning runs but
just three in the subsequent innings. Michigan,
on the other hand, scored exactly one first-
inning run over the four-game series.
On Friday, senior pitcher Craig Murray,
who got the surprise start with freshman Zach
Putnam out (leg injury), overcame a two-run
Northwestern first to pitch a complete game.
He gave up just five more hits the rest of the
way.
Murray's performance should have set
the Wolverines up for a successful weekend.
Instead, Northwestern sealed victories in the
first inning of each of the next three games.

In the first game of Saturday's doubleheader,
senior Paul Hammond struggled through the
opening frame. After striking out leadoff man
Jake Owens, Hammond gave up four straight
hits and two runs.
It looked as though he might escape the
inning when third baseman Caleb Fields
grounded the 0-1 pitch back to Hammond.
But Hammond's throw to second bounced into
centerfield, instead of starting an inning-end-
ing 1-6-3 double play. Designated hitter Anto-
nio Mule scored from third on the play.
The inning was further extended with two
outs by another error, this one an errant throw
from senior third baseman A. J. Scheidt. Two
more runs scored and Michigan lost 5-0 even
though Hammond pitched shutout ball the rest
of the way.
"The first inning of game one, unfortunately,
pretty much took us out of the game," Michi-
gan coach Rich Maloney said. "I just don't
understand how we could play so poorly, after
before recording an out."
"(The bullpen) did a really nice job (on
Sunday)," Maloney said. "The job that
Ali (Husain) came in and did and the job
that Andrew Hess came in and Ben Jen-
zen. ... It was very, very pleasing."
Maloney seemed calm for a coach

having so many weeks and so many games of
playing so well defensively."
The Wolverines seemed to be getting back
on track in Saturday's second game when
senior Drew Taylor gave up just one run in
the first, which his teammates immediately
matched in the bottom of the inning.
But the early-game problems persisted into
the second inning. Taylor gave up three more
runs on four hits, and Michigan lost 4-2.
"Two big innings did us in (on Saturday),"
Maloney said. "Outside of that, we were OK.
But we allowed two big innings, and you can't
do that when you're facing two good pitchers."
Possibly the most painful first inning came
in the series finale. With freshman Adam
Abraham, the team's closer, on the mound,
the Wolverines expected to finally make it to
the bottom of the inning with the score still
knotted at zero.
"What better guy to have in there than your
closer, to close out the first inning?" Malo-
whose team just lost three of four games.
But the fourth-year coach understands
that it is still early in the conference sea-
son and - similar to last season's turn-
around - he knows that it takes one big
series to get back into the heat of the con-
ference championship race.

ney said. "And then we got five runs (scored
against us)."
Abraham left the game without even
recording an out. Northwestern's lead-
off man grounded back to Abraham. The
pitcher bobbled the chance and opened the
floodgates. He gave up four singles and a
walk before junior Andrew Hess relieved
him. Two more of Abraham's runners scored
before Hess was able to shut down the Wild-
cats. Hess, senior Ali Husain and freshman
Ben Jenzen pitched scoreless baseball for
eight more innings, but the offense could
muster just four runs to Northwestern's five.
"Unfortunately, the first inning counts,"
Maloney said. "We need to be able to make
plays in the first inning. We spotted (North-
western) runs in the first inning in four straight
games. I think in baseball history about 70 per-
cent (of teams) win when they score first. And
that worked out. They won three games, that's
75 percent."
"The guys competed, and I give them
credit," Maloney said. "After the way we
lost (on Saturday), they could've died out,
and they didn't. We had a chance to win,
and we just couldn't get over the top. If
we keep pushing forward and just try to
get better, we'll turn this thing around."

WILDCATS
Continued from page 1B

sible for pitching
freshman closer.
chased out of the;

all nine innings after
Adam Abraham was
game by the Wildcats

bt Firiu P I
STAFF PICKS

Colt Rosensweig

DEFENSE
The defense was inconsis-
tent in the series. After an
errorless win, five errors
in the next three games
helped the Wildcats to
two five-run first innings.
PITCHING
The pitching was both really
great and really poor over
the weekend. Paul Ham-
mond struggled on Friday
in the first, but kept it
together to close the game
out. And the relievers did
an excellent job keeping
the team in the games.
OFFENSE
The Wolverines struggled
offensively against the Wild-
cats. They hit the ball hard,
but couldn't seem to find holes
in Northwestern's defense.
Despite that, they struck
out way too many times.

H. Jose Bosch

David Murray
Ohio State

Colt Rosensweig

Chris Herring

Big Ten First Place

Purdue

Purdue

Michigan

;.F-

Big Ten Second Place

Ohio State

Iowa
Minnesota

Purdue

Ohio State

Big Ten Third Place

Minnesota

Michigan

Illinois

. .: ;;: ,:

Big Ten Tournament Winner
Big Ten Tournament Second

Ohio State

Minnesota
Michigan

Purdue

t 1~

Minnesota
Ohio State~
Bob Todd, Ohio State

Michigan
Illinois

Big Ten Coach of the Year

Paul Stevens, Northwestern

John Anderson, Minnesota

f- .nf~ l

Rich Maloney
An 40

1

David Murray

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