May 2, 2006
SOTe MSdiiga Bailg
Blue stays on top
with series win
By H. Jose Bosch
Daily Sports Writer
Before the Big Ten baseball season started, three teams were
picked to finish ahead of Michigan.
Now, with the conference season a little more than halfway
complete, the Wolverines are still kings of the Big Ten.
On Sunday, Michigan dispatched in-state rival Michigan
State 11-5 en route to its fourth-straight series win over a Big
Ten opponent. The Wolverines won three out of four games
in each series . The Wolverines also remain tied for first with
Nothwestern in the conference.
"(Being in first place is) very pleasing,
Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. "And CG
I'm proud of our team. So many different
guys contribute. It's never the same guy. We're not a team of
superstars, (just a team) of good players. So the contributions
have come from many."
As a team, the Wolverines (14-6 Big Ten, 26-15 overall)
made the Michigan State pitchers look more like Charlie
Brown than Division I college pitchers. In the series finale,
Michigan amassed 11 hits and drew six walks. This type of
team contribution and patience at the plate was exemplified in
the third inning of Sunday's game.
With two outs and runners on first and third, junior A.J.
Scheidt started a two-out rally when Michigan State second
baseman Alan Cattrysse booted Scheidt's groundball, allow-
ing sophomore Nate Recknagel to score. After three straight
walks allowed two runners to walk across home plate, senior
Jeff Kunkel ripped a single just over the outstretched hand
of Cattrysse to knock in another two runs. Sophomore Doug
Pickens capped the third off with a run-scoring single. When
the dust settled, Michigan scored all six runs with two outs
and the game was basically over.'
"We've been swinging the bats pretty well and I'm really
pleased with that," Maloney said. "And (we had) timely hits.
Even though the score was 7-0, Kunkel gets a bases-loaded
single and scores two runs - those are huge. ... And then
Recknagel got some big hits. It's a different guy each day, and
it's pretty exciting."
In Sunday's game, six different players claimed RBI - with
four of them knocking in two apiece. For the series, the Wol-
verines had 10 or more hits in all four games and every starter
drove in at least one run.
"Everybody is doing a great job doing whatever they can to
help the team win," Kunkel said. "It's great. We've won our
The Wolverines celebrate their third win of the weekend over rival Michigan State, which kept them atop the Big Ten standings in a
tie with Northwestern. Michigan has taken three out of four games in four straight Big Ten series.
last four series against really good teams in the Big Ten. We
(just have) to keep it going."
Michigan's performance on Sunday is even more impressive
considering what transpired the night before. After taking the
first game of the Saturday doubleheader, 6-2, the Wolverines
trailed by one heading into the final inning.
With two outs and runners on second and third, junior Eric
Rose hit a two-run single to give Michigan a 5-4 lead and
eventually came around to score an insurance run. Unfortu-
nately, a two-run lead wasn't enough as Michigan State (9-11,
21-21) responded with three runs of its own and stole a 7-6 win
to prevent a full series sweep.
But the Wolverines' play Sunday wasn't affected by the
tough loss Saturday night.
"We fight back and take the lead and we're inches away from
taking that game and maybe sweeping the series, and yet we
lose a heartbreaker," Maloney said. "And we're all sick to our
stomachs. So for those kids to come back (Sunday) and play a
solid game of baseball says a lot about them."
Michigan got off on the right foot in the series' first two
games thanks to strong pitching performances from its start-
ers. Freshman Zack Putnam opened the weekend by going 8
1/3 innings, giving up just one earned run and striking out five
batters. Fifth-year senior Paul Hammond followed that up with
a two-run, four strikeout, complete game gem.
Michigan has just three series left in Big Ten play and two
of those series are against teams that have losing conference
records. Even though the final road to the Big Ten champion-
ship appears to be paved in gold, Kunkel believes the team will
not lose focus.
"We have the Big Ten championship and that'll keep any-
body sharp," Kunkel said. "That's what we're playing for now.
If we just keep winning series - take three of four - and
maybe if things go our way and we sweep a team towards the
end (of the year), it would be huge for us. Right now, if we just
keep winning, we're in good shape."
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Women's tennis falls short of conference title for second year in a row
The No. 31 Michigan women's tennis team fell to conference powerhouse No. 11 Northwestern, 4-2, in the finals of this
season's conference tournament. The Wolverines drew first blood by taking the doubles point, but the Wildcats dominated
in the singles, winning four of the five completed singles matches en route to their eighth consecutive tournament title.
Michigan reached the finals after an exciting 4-3 victory against No. 30 Iowa the day before. The highlight of the match
came when junior Elizebeth Exon defeated the Hawkeyes' Hillary Mintz in three sets, 4-6,7-6(3), 6-3, to win the final point
and earn the Wolverines a spot in the finals.
Men downed by Ohio State in conference semifinal
The 10th-ranked Buckeyes rolled to a 4-0 bushwacking of No. 38 Michigan in the conference tournament semifi-
nals on Saturday. Ohio State completely dominated the match, forcing a total of four matches to be abandoned. But
the cloudy weekend had some silver lining.
In the quarterfinals, Michigan defeated Indiana 4-2. The duo of sophomore Brian Hung and junior Matko Maravic
helped Michigan earn the doubles point and then went on to win their respective singles matches as well.
Both the men's and women's tennis teams will now await the announcement for the NCAA Tournament fields.