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June 01, 1999 - Image 14

Resource type:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1999-06-01

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

14- I he Iviehigan Uady - tues ay, June ,
Bush breaks season hits record AJ
Centerfielder battles illness to slug two home runs in NCAA Regional

By Jone ke
1aily Sports Writer
NOTRE DAME - Brian Bush wasn't feeling quite
right on Friday. In the Michigan baseball team's first
appearance in the NCAA regional in 10 years the senior
centerfielder was vomiting.
But he played regardless of his physical condition.
Because he was a senior, because his team was playing
against top-seeded Cal State-Fullerton, because that's
what baseball players do. Because there is no crying in
"I co'ld barely move yesterday," Bush said on Saturday.
"I just thank the Notre Dame doctors. They said it was
something food related ... something I ate."
Dehydrated, sick, and about to vomit Bush stepped into
the batter's box in the first inning. With two outs and fac-
ing Fullerton's best pitcher, Matt Sorenson, Bush put all
the queasiness and ill feeling away.
He smacked the first pitch along the leftfield line. He
started what became the motto of the baseball team and its
14 seniors all weekend. He kept battling.
The next day after being defeated by the Titans in the
two-loss elimination tournament, the Wolverines kept bat-
tling. Leading the his team, Bush kept battling after what
coach Geoff Zahn called a "tough loss."
Leading off Michigan's lineup in the eighth, up by two
runsiWt second game against Creighton, Bush faced a 2-
2 count. The prospects of giving up the late lead against
third-seeded Creighton as they had the day before were
very real. In the heat of the day Bush overcame his stom-
ach ailment and the hot and humid temperatures. He sent
a rocket over the left field fence putting his team ttp by
three ensuring victory.
"It shows me his character and his spirit," Zahn said.
"He told me even if I wanted to take him out yesterday
there was no way he was coming out."

Later Saturday evening when Michigan was down by
two in the third to No. 2 seed Notre Dame, Bush stepped
Ltp to the plate again. He battled back against the array of
off-speed pitches that Alex Shilliday had thrown all game.
Bush singled a 1-0 pitch over second base scoring Jason
Alcaraz from third for the first run.
Bush wasn't finished. His next at bat he faced an 0-2
count off two off-speed pitches. He lined another shot over
the field of dreams like cedar trees that lined the outfield.
The home run was his seventh of the year and broke the
hits in a single season record. More importantly the two-
run dinger gave the Wolverines putting them ahead 4-3.
"I just wanted to fight off the off-speed and hopefully
get a fast ball," Bush said. "More often than not I'd get it."
lie got the pitch and the hit threw the momentum per-
manently in Michigan's favor. Shilliday had been relying
on off-speed pitches all game.
He had gotten into a habit of throwing nothing but off
speed pitches when a runner had reached third as Scales
did on an Alcaraz grounder. But Bush patiently waited for
the fastball and got it.
"It was a good day at the plate for me," Bush said.
Against Fullerton the next day in the championship
game Bush was still on a hitting streak. He hit two singles
to leftfield in his first two at bats.
The second was a looper that loaded the bases with one
out in the second. But Michigan never capitalized on the
situation stranding all the base runners with 3-0 lead. The
Wolverines eventually lost to the top-seeded Fullerton 9-4.
"That's the big part, the character of this team," Zahn
said. "They're all winners. Brian Bush platooned a lot and
worked attd ssorked and worked and has made himself into
a great ball player.
"This is what I believe Michigan is about. This is svhat
I believe college athletics are about. They're determined to
be successful in whatever they choose to do."

Despite suffering from a stomach aliment, centerfielder Brian Bush broke the
Michigan single season hits record with his second home run of Saturday.
Tourney run marks return.
of"'M' baseball program

Continued from Page 14
seed aid host Notre Dame, they man-
aged to beat the Irish in front of a near
capacity crowd, 11-5.
In both of these games, the
Wolverines were led by senior and first
team all-tournament centerfielder,
Brian Bush. Days before, Bush was in
bed vomiting with a stomach virus.
But he managed to belt a home run in

each game.
Sunday, facing No. I seed Cal State-
Fullerton, the Wolverines could not
pull out another win.
Already decimated by a rotation that
was running out of pitchers, the team
could not repeat the timely hitting and
good defense that had carried the
Wolverines throughout the tourna-
The Wolverines left 12 runners on
base, had four errors and an untimely
passed-ball. Playing their fourth nine-

inning game in three days was obvi-
ously taking it's toll.
"These guys (the seniors) learned
how to play, the Michigan way, and the
rest of them followed." Zahn said.
And for the first time since the tour-
nament run of 1989, "the Michigan
way" has put its team in the national
"They played like champions, and
they are champions," Zahn said. "I
couldn't be prouder of this group of
kids that played for us."

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Continued from Page 12
had only reached the Big Ten tourna-
ment once since the turn of the
Quite a change for the Wolverines,
who had been one of the nations elite
teams during the 'gos, until an
NCAA investigation and subsequent
probation sent them into a tail spin
they would not soon recover from.
The decade that brought us
Indiana Jones, the fall of commu-
nism and break dancing also saw the
Wolverines capture all ten Big Ten
regular season championships, four
Big Ten playoff championships, four
trips to the College World Series,
and 43 NCAA rules violations -
leading to the first athletic probation
int the history of the Unisversity of
The two-year probation led to the
resignation of coach Bud Middaugh,
who had been the skipper for the
Wolverines throughout the decade,
and ssho had been personally
involved in the majority of the viola-
Middaugh's successor, Bill
Frechan was neser able to out-dis-
tatnce the shadow cast by the siola-
tions and left the Unisersity after
lust five nears.
Freehan left the Wolverines with
the distinction of having the lowest
win percentage in the history of the
program -- capped off by a dismal
dead-last Bin Ten finish in 1995.
The Micltigan baseball program
was at the lowest point in its storied
history, and was in dire need of

something to turn things around.
Enter current head coach Geoff
Zahn and this year's senior class.
In just their first season in Ann
Arbor, Zahn and company reached
the Big Ten tournament, and just
one year later sat atop the Big Ten
the conferences regular seaso
But the very next season, the
Wolverines slipped back into medi-
ocrity with a sixth place finish in the
conference, and many questioned
whether or not the Wolverines were
still feeling the effects of the
Middough probation.
But this year, behind a talente
senior class and a confident lie
coach, the Wolverines reached the
NCAA tournament for the first time
in ten years, and won the Big Ten
tournaient for the first time since
The performance of this year's
team not only speaks volumes about
the character and determination of
the coaching staff and players, but it
also marks the rebirth of Michigan
baseball. The success of this year's
team is a big step for a program thl@
looked like it might never recover
from the scandal, now almost ten
yecars sold.
With Zahn at the helm, the
Wolverines now head into the next
millennium looking to further build
on this year's successes. Should
Michigan return to greatness, many
will look back at the 1999
Wolverines, especially this year
senior class, as the team that rebuit
Michigan baseball, and maybe more
importantly as the team that made
people believe again.

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