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April 06, 2006 - Image 8

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-04-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

A lThursday
April6,2006
sports. michigandaily. com
sports@michigandaily.com

PeTSn tilg

8A

. . . . ... ..............

'M'-Nine
blows out
Central
By David Murray
Daily Sports Writer
MT. PLEASANT - If chicks dig the long ball, then
Mike Schmidt is a ladies man.
The senior leftfielder hit two homers over the leftfield
wall in the third inning, and Michigan (1-3 Big Ten,
13-10 overall) batted around the order in a 19-4 rout
of Central Michigan (4-2 Mid-American Conference,
15-13).
The two dingers propelled the
Maize and Blue to an eight-run
frame, and in the process, Schmidt
tied a Michigan record for home runs in an inning. The
only other Wolverine to hit two long balls in the same
t inning on the road was Mike Gillette on May 11, 1988
at Eastern Michigan University.
Schmidt opened up the third inning with a solo shot
that carried over the leftfielder's head.
"I know the pitching coach and I knew that they
weren't going to throw me anything good," Schmidt
said. "Then he hung something, and I drove that curve
ball and I got all of it."
His second long ball came with two outs. It flew over
the wall in left-center, driving in freshman Adam Abra-
ham and sophomore Nate Recknagel.
"I came back up, and they were throwing that lefty
that wasn't putting anything on it and throwing a lot
of off-speed," Schmidt said. "I wasn't looking for any-
thing in particular; he just threw one over the middle of
the plate in a 3-2 (count)"
Because of Mt. Pleasant's close proximity to the
Saginaw native's home, many of his friends and family
attended the game. Schmidt gave them more than they
paid for, ending the game with three hits and four RBI.
"You don't do that too often, two home runs in one
inning," freshman Adam Abraham said. "It was good
for (Schmidt) in front of all his home fans."
Schmidt wasn't the only Michigan player to feast on

1

Position changes give
young Wolverines a
chance to excel

By H. Jose Bosch
Daily Sports Writer

MT. PLEASANT - Normally, when
Adam Abraham makes a throw to senior
catcher Jeff Kunkel, the freshman is on the

mound.
But yesterday, the
situation was differ-
ent during Michigan's
19-4 win over Central
Michigan.
Abraham was play-
ing third and Kunkel
was at first.

z
8fl

BkN IMON/aily
Senior Mike Schmidt (24) had two home runs and four 1RBI in the Wolverines' 19-4 rout of Central Michigan

the Chippewa pitchers. Each Wolverine starter reached
base at least once, and six of them recorded multiple
hits.
The offensive outburst came as a surprise after
Michigan's Big Ten opening series against Northwest-
ern, when the Wolverines scored just 12 runs over a
four-game span. The 19 runs scored against Central
Michigan was a season-high, and their 19 hits tied their
season-high.
Abraham also did his part to erase the memory of the
Northwestern series.
After failing to make it out of the first inning as a
pitcher in his last outing, the Grosse Pointe Park native
tallied a career-high four hits and two RBI, playing
third base against Central Michigan.
Junior Eric Rose was also impressive, driving in four
Michigan base runners on three hits.

"Today we put balls in play, like we have been, but
now some of them fell in," Michigan coach Rich Malo-
ney said. "When they fall in, it gets contagious and guys
get confident, and the game is what it was. The game
was very encouraging because our team needed that."
Following their huge third inning, the Wolverines
took advantage of the Chippewas' poor defense,
scoring 10 more runs over the final six frames. After
Michigan starting pitcher Michael Powers looked
shaky, giving up three runs and walking five batters
over just 2 2/3 innings, the bullpen held down the
fort, striking out nine batters and giving up just one
run over the game's final 6 1/3 innings. Senior Jeff
Niemiec and freshman Mike Wilson both had their
strongest appearances out of the pen this season.
Niemiec notched five putouts and Wilson struck out
four.

The traditional pitcher-catcher battery
turned third-first battery is just one exam-
ple of the flexibility Michigan coach Rich
Maloney has with his roster.
In addition to Abraham and Kunkel
manning the infield corners, sophomore
Nate Recknagel, usually a first baseman,
was behind the plate and freshman Doug
Pickens played designated hitter.
"I think it gives us some versatility that
other teams don't have," Maloney said.
"We're going to have some options but
we're grooming players. A lot of these
guys haven't even played that much (col-
lege baseball)"
By shifting experienced players into
other positions, Maloney had a chance
to play some younger players, such as
Recknagel and fellow sophomore Derek
VanBuskirk, giving them valuable play-
ing time that may prove handy later in the
season.
According to the coach, players coming
out of high school don't see enough good
pitching to allow them to adjust easily to
Division I college baseball. With so many
versatile players on the roster, Maloney
can give younger Wolverines an opportu-
nity to see as much college-level pitching
as possible.
"There's a growing period, and we're
trying to grow our team right now," Malo-
ney said. "In time, I think this is going to
be a solid team:'
Nine Wolverines have started at more
than one position for Michigan this season
and two of them, Abraham and Pickens,
have started at four different positions.
The other seven players have each started
at three different positions, including Kun-

kel, who has started 20 games as catcher
and two as the designated hitter in addition
to his first start at first base yesterday.
Besides giving younger players a chance
to play, Maloney also had an opportunity
to rest a team with more nagging injuries
than any team he has ever coached.
"It's very encouraging (to see players
excel at other positions) because we're
banged up," Maloney said. "We need
other guys to step up if we're going to win
games. Fortunately, today we had some
nice contributions from several different
guys."
FouRTH TIME'S THE CHARM: In his player
bio, it may say 2006 highlights. But for
junior Jeff Niemiec, this season has been
anything but high.
In his three appearances prior to yester-
day, Niemiec had a 0-1 record with a 10.80
ERA and just two strikeouts. But against
Central Michigan, Niemiec struck out five
batters in just 1 2/3 innings and allowed
just one run.
"(Yesterday) was just about having my
slider" Niemiec said. "My slider was on
today, and I was able to throw it to get
ahead of hitters and put them away."
Niemiec's sudden emergence may indi-
cate a return to last season's form, when
he amassed a 3-1 record as a reliever. This
would be helpful for the Wolverines, whose
starters have been struggling as of late.
Au. GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END:
The Chippewas snapped the Michigan
bullpen's scoreless innings streak in the
fifth inning. Senior Ali Husain walked
Central Michigan's Troy Moratti with the
bases loaded, allowing the bullpen's first
run in 20 innings. The streak spanned over
six games against four different teams
(Oakland, Bowling Green, Northwester.
and Central Michigan). But fans have
nothing to worry about - the Wolverines
began another scoreless streak of 4 1/3
innings began after Husain walked home
a run.
BECAUSE WE LOVE PITCHING THAT MUCH:
Had he been in attendance, famous pitch-
ing coach Leo Mazzone probably would've
had a heart attack. The game featured 29
hits, 23 runs, 16 walks, three hit batsmen
and three wild pitches. Adding insult to
injury, Central Michigan's pitchers made
two throwing errors.

el

*I

NLNOTE
Top Cager recruit de-commits
The losses just keep on coming for the Michi-
gan men's basketball team. First, it was an
NCAA tournament bid, then it was the NIT
finals, and now it appears it may have lost one of
its top recruits. According to Rivals.com, guard/

forward Alex Legion, who is currently a high
school junior, has re-opened his recruitment after
originally committing to Michigan on Nov. 15.
In addition, Legion is transferring from Detroit
Country Day School and going to basketball
powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wil-
son, Va. Rivals.com also reported that Legion is
rumored to be considering offers from Michigan,
Connecticut, Kansas, UCLA and Villanova.

This is not the first time a potential Wolverine
recruit has de-committed in recent years. Cen-
ter Al Horford of Florida and Kentucky guard
Joe Crawford both backed out of their original
agreement with Michigan. Legion is the 15th best
overall player in the class of 2007, according to
Rivals.com. The Wolverines still have a commit-
ment from guard Kelvin Grady of East Grand
Rapids in their class of 2007 recruiting class.

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