14 - e Michigan Daily - Wednesday, May 14, 1997
By Sharat Raju
Daily Sports Editor
On a typical weekend, Ray Fisher
Stadium is maybe half full for a
Michigan baseball series. Of that crowd,
the majority of the fans are either parents,
relatives or fellow Michigan athletes.
But the masses turned out for the sea-
son finale - a Big Ten-clinching perfor-
mance by the Wolverines.
"This is the first time we've had a
crowd like this since I've been here,"
Michigan captain Kirk Beermann said.
"It was great to have a band up there and
Winning past, future
meet in championship
The band played an instrumental part SARA STILLMAN/Daly
motivating the crowd and creating a Michigan pitcher Bryan Cranson and the rest of the Wolverines won the confer-
rcus-like atmosphere. The ruckus ence title with the help of surprisingly large crowds.
ight have even excited Michigan start- times this year and it's nice to have the your own bed, and you're getting meals
g pitcher J.J. Putz a little too much. sun and a nice baseball day," Freehan from Cottage Inn.
"I think I was too sky-high right away, said. "I've had times I froze my tail end "There's no place we'd rather be than
e adrenaline was going too much;' off. It's special coming back and watch- Ray L. Fisher (Stadium)."
utz said. "I got caught up in it all:" ing some of the kids you helped recruit." T HE BESCO Snow: Derek Besco
Amongst the crowd were several Tomorrow, Michigan hosts the Big received the Big Ten player of the week
fichigan dignitaries, including former Ten playoffs, and the fan support should award for his offensive prowess over the
otball coach/athletic director Bo play a role in those games as well. weekend.
chembechler and former baseball "(Being at home) is a big factor," The Michigan leftfielder went 7-for-
tach Bill Freehan. Michigan pitcher Matt Herr said. "You're 13 with a double, two home runs and
"I've seen them play five, six or seven not sleeping in your bed. Here you're in seven RBI for the series.
By Kevin Kasiborski
Daily Sports Writer
Between games of Michigan's dou-
bleheader against Ohio State on
Saturday, members of Michigan's 1961
Big Ten championship team and 1962
national championship team were hon-
ored with an on-field ceremony.
It served as a reminder of Michigan's.
rich baseball tra-
was the first var-
stty sport at
ing in 1860.
Since then, the
won two nation- '
onships and sent 7
almost 50 players to the big leagues.
Unfortunately, tradition was one of
the few things the Wolverines had going
for them in recent years.
Since the Wolverines' last Big Ten
title in 1989, they have finished the sea-
son with sub-.500 records four times
and finished higher than fifth in the con-
ference only twice.
But with Saturday's thrilling come-
from-behind victory over Ohio State,
Michigan captured the 1997 Big Ten
title. Maybe it will help ease the memo-
ry of recent losing seasons. And maybe
it will serve as a bridge to the
Wolverines' storied past.
But most importantly, the champi-
onship could be a bridge to the future -
the start of a nesv winning tradition.
"Michigan has a great tradition in
baseball, and in all sports, really,"
Michigan coach Geoff Zahn said.
"When I got in here, I said that I wanted
to bring it back to where it was in the
1980s, when they were winning champi-
onships and won regional tournaments"
Michigan won the Big Ten eight times
in the '80s and appeared in the College
World Series four times. Those teams
featured such players as Barry Larkin,
Hal Morris, Chris Sabo, Scott
Kamieniecki and Jim Abbott. Larkin,
Morris, Sabo and Kamieniecki have all
won a World Series ring. Abbott won an
Olympic gold medal.
Winning breeds winning. Winning
programs generate their own momen-
tum. Maybe the '97 Wolverines have
Michigan rightfielder Derek Besco,
who has felt the frustrations of coming
close without succeeding, was an inte-
gral part of Michigan's championship
"I finally won something," said Besco,
whose two-run homer in the first gave
the Wolverines an early lead. "I was
close a couple of times in high school,
and now I have finally got a champi-
onship under my belt. It's great. I am so
happy we won, I just can't believe it."
But no matter how far this current
group of Wolverines advances in the
postseason, and regardless if any of
them play in the major leagues, they can
say they won a championship for
And they can call themselves winners.
7 point improvement! I
Continued from Page 16
title after winning the second game of
the doubleheader, 4-3, on Saturday. The
victory not only gave the Wolverines
their first conference title in the 1990s, it
also gave Michigan home-field advan-
tage throughout the Big Ten playoffs,
which start tomorrow.
The biggest play of the series - and
consequently, the season - was as
improbable as the hero of the day. In the
sixth inning, with Michigan trailing, 3-
2, and Bryan Besco on first, catcher
Mick Kalahar stepped up to the plate.
Kalahar drove a sinking liner to the
left-centerfield gap. Ohio State center-
fielder Mike Lockwood got a quick
jump on the shot, made a diving lunge at
the ball, but came up short. Leftfielder
Jason Trott fumbled the ball while back-
ing up the play.
Besco wheeled around second and
was sent home by Michigan third base
coach Chris Harrison, while Trott was
busy trying to'find the handle on the ball
in the outfield.
"Once they kicked the ball a little bit
in the outfield, he was going to go,"
Trott's relay sailed over the head of
the cutoff man and the third baseman,
then trickled into the Ohio State dugout,
allowing Besco to score without a play.
"Besco made the play by hustling,'
Harrison said. "If he doesn't hustle all
the way, we don't score."
As a bonus, Kalahar, who was
approaching third base, was awarded
home plate on the errant throw.
"It was a cheap hit, off the end of the
bat, but I'll take it," Kalahar said.
Following Kalahar's double and the
two-base throwing error, the score
became 4-3; which it remained. The
unusual play proved to be the clincher.
"I knew it was going to be over once
we got the lead again," Michigan start-
ing pitcher and winner J.J. Putz said. "I
wasn't going to let us lose this game."
The 6-foot-5 sophomore hurler --
undefeated in conference play at 5-0 -
settled down after a rocky first inning
and pitched a complete game.
Leftfielder Jason Alcaraz secured the
final out and the celebratory melee
ensued in the outfield, as Michigan final-
ly grabbed the elusive conference title.
However, the scene after Saturday's
game wouldn't have happened if it was-
n't for a Michigan victory on Friday. The
Wolverines won, 6-2. In the bottom of
the sixth inning, Michigan scored four@
runs against Ohio State's ace, Justin Fry
The Buckeyes managed a of couple
victories of their own this weekend. By
winning the first game of the double-
header Saturday, the Buckeyes clinched
one of the four spots in the conference
playoffs. Their second victory of the
weekend - a 12-3 shellacking on
Sunday - ensured a No. 2 seed in the
conference playoffs, tomorrow.
Michigan hosts Illinois at 3:30 p.m.
after Ohio State takes on Purdue at
Getting a late start?
Classes be in May 9th!!!