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February 20, 2012 - Image 6

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6A - Monday, February 20, 2012 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

BASEBALL
Michigan wins pair after
dropping season opener

Wolverines earn revenge
against Kentucky in 2012

By STEVEN BRAID
Daily Sports Writer
If the Michigan baseball team
proved anything this weekend,
it's that it isn't2011 anymore.
After
giving up PITTSBURGH 9
five runs MICHIGAN 8
in the final
two innings SETON HALL 1
en route to MICHIGAN 2
a season-
opening 9-8 W.VIRGINIA 3
loss to Pitts- MICHIGAN 14
burgh, the
Wolverines (2-1 overall) bounced
back to defeat Seton Hall and
West Virginia in the Big Ten/
Big East Challenge behind great
starting pitching.
"Any time you can get seven-
plus innings out of a starter,
you're in good shape to win the
game,"said sophomore rightfield-
er Michael O'Neill. "(Redshirt
junior pitcher Bobby Brosnahan
and junior pitcher Ben Ballan-
tine) didn't overthrow, they threw
strikes, they hit their spots, and
they kept us in the game."
Last season, the Wolverines
went winless at the Big Ten/Big
East Challenge and didn't pick up
their second win until 11 games
into the season while their pitch-
ing staff struggled. A much differ-
ent team appeared this weekend.
Against an undefeated Moun-
taineers team on Sunday, Michi-
gan started off strong and never
looked back. Senior third base-
man John Lorenz smacked a
three-run home run in the first
inning and five other Wolverines
collected RBI, as the offense bat-
ted in 14 runs to secure a 14-3
victory. O'Neill gave the West Vir-
ginia pitching staff fits all game,
going 3-for-5 with four runs, two

stolen-bases and one RBI.
But as well as the offense hit,
Ballantine might have had a bet-
ter game. Looking to improve on
his sophomore campaign - in
which he went 3-I with a 4.91
earned run average - Ballantine
pitched seven strong innings,
while allowing just three hits and
one earnedrun. He also had five
strikeouts.
"We definitely wanted to come
back to Ann Arbor with a win-
ning record because we knew
how important it would be for
our morale," Ballantine said.
"(Assistant coach Steve) Merri-
man and I, we just said, 'attack
the hitters with fastballs ... keep
them off balance with some off-
speed stuff and let the defense
make plays.'
"And they did that all game,
and so it was really easy for me
to make it through seven innings
today."
Ballantine's performance gave
the Wolverines their second-
straight game with a strong pitch-
ingperformance.
The difference on Saturday,
though, was that Michigan really
needed Brosnahan's strong show-
ing.
With the Wolverines's lineup
struggling to produce, Brosna-
han sqaured off against Seton
Hall's Rick Mangione in a pitch-
er's duel. After giving up a run in
the first inning, Brosnahan sty-
mied the Pirates's lineup for the
rest of the game. He allowed just
three hits, while striking out four
batters over the next six innings.
Meanwhile, Michigan's bats
came alive in the bottom of the
sixth inning. Junior center field-
er Patrick Biondi started off the
inning with a single. After Bion-
di stole second base, freshman

left fielder Will Drake doubled
down the right field line to tie
the score at one. Seton Hall then
brought in Benny Mejia to relieve
Mangione, but the Wolverines
were still able to capitalize on
the scoring opportunity. After
Drake advanced to third base on
an O'Neill fly to right field, senior
catcher Coley Crank knocked
him in on a sacrifice fly to left
field to give the Wolverines the
lead for good.
Redshirt sophomore Logan
McAnallen came on in relief to
pitch a scoreless final two innings
to secure the win for Brosnahan.
"I was encouraged by the
pitching," said Michigan coach
Rich Maloney. "I thought Bobby
and Logan pitched very well."
The opening weekend also
revealed that the Wolverines have
found an offensive force in Drake.
In his first collegiate game,
the first-year player went 3-for-5
with two runs scored and one RBI
against the Panthers. He finished
the weekend with five hits, five
runs, four RBI and three stolen
bases.
"He drives in runs, he's con-
stantly on base, he can steal
whenever he wants - it's nice
to hit behind him because he's
always on base," O'Neillsaid. "Not
only does he drive in runs, but he
also allows (other) hitters to drive
him in. He's an instant impact on
offensive."
After going winless at the Big
Ten/Big East Challenge last year,
Michigan is encouraged by it's
two early wins, especially by the
way itplayed after the dishearten-
ing loss to Pittsburgh.
"We battled back," O'Neill.
"We didn't let that loss on Friday
night determine our weekend
which is a great sign."

By GREG GARNO
Daily Sports Writer
If Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins was worried about her
young pitchingsquad before this
weekend,
she can MARYLAND 7
stop now. MICHIGAN 3
The No.
11 Michi- LONG ISLAND 0
gan softball MICHIGAN 4
team won
four of five KENTUCKY 0
games over MICHIGAN 3
the week-
end at the FLORIDA ATL. 0
FAU Kick- MICHIGAN 2
off Clas-
sic in Boca WRIGHT ST. 0
Raton, Fla., MICHIGAN 4
includ-
ing one over nonconference
rival Kentucky - the team that
knocked off the Wolverines in
Ann Arbor during the Super 16
round of the NCAA Tournament
last season.
Many questioned whether
the Wolverines could handle the
stronger teams from the south
and west, and this weekend
was a chance to prove that they
could.
Freshman pitcher Haley
Wagner led the way for the Wol-
verines, improving her record to
4-0. The standout rookie threw
her second and third complete
games and held No. 22 Kentucky
scoreless.
"I just pitch and let my
defense work," Wagner said. "I
trust them tobe there for me and
I know that they have my back."
Wagner didn't seem fazed
heading into the matchup
against Kentucky. Despite see-
ing her defense struggle early
in the weekend, the youngster
didn't feel pressure - or at least
you couldn't tell.

0

0

Senior third baseman Amanda Chidester and Michigan went 4-1 in Florida.

"I went into it just like it was
another game," Wagner said
"It's just a game where I'm going
to compete."
Michigan coach Carol
Hutchins was quick to credit her
young pitcher.
"I thought Haley had an out-
standing game," Hutchins said.
"She worked the count well and
the defense stepped up behind
her."
Even more impressive was the
Wolverines' ability to bounce

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RELEASE DATE- Monday, February 20, 2012
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back from a tough loss to Mary-
land early in the tournament.
Michigan never found its
groove in that match, commit-
ting six errors that allowed the
opposition to get into scoring
position.
Freshman pitcher Sarah
Driesenga took the loss on the
mound against the Terrapins,
but Hutchins said the loss was
the result of the entire team's
poor play.
"I thought everything went
wrong," Hutchins said. "We
couldn't hit, our pitching had a
rough day, and our fielding was
horrendous."
"It was just one of those
games where nothing goes your
way," added senior third base-
man Amanda Chidester.
"We definitely have a lot of
work, as every team does, but
it has to be up to us to play for
Michigan and fight hard for our
team."
A loss now is better than late
in the season for the Wolver-
ines, when momentum is crucial
to putting together a run in the
postseason.
Hutchins was happy with the
team's response to the loss Fri-
day, though.
"I thought we owned it, took
ownership of it, and then put it
behind us," Hutchins said.
"I thought
we owned it "
(and) put it
behind us."
After losing to Maryland on
Friday, Michigan strung togeth-
er four shutouts against Long
Island, Kentucky, Florida Atlan-
tic and Wright State.
Despite the lack of power hit-
ting, the Wolverines handled
each team with ease. Michigan
tallied only one home run and
one double in the five games. In
last weekend's tournament, the
Wolverines hit four home runs
in four games.
But home runs aren't neces-
sary when you post four straight
shutouts.
"I am not really big on the
shutout, but it is a great way to
beat someone," Hutchins said.
"Shutouts are a team effort. We
have a versatile pitching staff
this year. They are each focused
on pitching one inning at a time
right now."
Chidester said that piecing
together wins like the team has
been is simple, as long as Michi-
gan keeps it simple.
"You play your position and
you do your part at your posi-
tion," Chidester said. "When you
try to do more, mistakes hap-
pen."

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