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May 29, 2007 - Image 15

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2007-05-29

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

15

As NCAA Tournament
begins, Michigan struggles
with runners on base

By ANDY REID ever, Michigan's offense had a good
Daily Sports Writer weekend at the plate. Just two teams
(Ohio State and Minnesota) tallied
Nearly 1,700 excited people more hits in their first two tourna-
jammed into The Fish Friday night ment games than the Wolverines.
as Michigan baseball fever swept "It wasn't like we played bad
across Ann Arbor. baseball," Michigan coach Rich
After winning the Big Ten regu- Maloney said. "We got 25 hits, but
lar-season championship by two- we didn't get timely hits. That was
and-a-half games, the Wolverines the difference. It wasn't like we
strolled into the conference tourna- didn't hit at all. We just didn't get
ment as the top-seeded team, play- the big ones to get some momentum
ing an Ohio State team they swept on our side, so I guess it's frustrat-
in a four-game series earlier in the ing because we shouldn't even have
year. to be talking about this."
The maize-and-blue clad fans in All year, Michigan has consis-
the stands came with high expecta- tently driven in hits when it has
tions. They wanted to see the Wol- runners on base. The Wolverines'
verines win their second-straight hit-to-run ratio was just 1.4 in the
conference crown. Big Ten regular season.
The Michigan players even had But evident by its 3.6 hit-to-run
higher expectations for themselves. ratio in the Big Ten Tournament,
In their minds, their team was Michigan missed a lot of opportu-
surely a lock for the NCAA Tourna- nities this weekend. In fact, 20 Wol-
ment. And once they got there, the verine runners were left on base in
Wolverines wanted to make their just two games.
first trip to the College World Series With Michigan squandering
in Omaha, Neb., since 1984. so many chances throughout the
But it was a weekend of disap- weekend, it was only a matter of
pointment and missed opportuni- time before an opponent capital-
ties for Michigan, which bowed out ized on one of its mistakes.
of the double-elimination tourna- After clawing their way back
ment after losses to Ohio State and from down 5-2 to tie Friday's game
Penn State. against Penn State in the ninth
The usually explosive Wolver- inning, sophomore Adam Abraham
ine offense tallied just seven total stepped up to the plate with run-
runs and never held a lead during ners on first and second. But with
the Tournament. Statistically, how- the possibility of stealing the vic-

tory from the Nittany Lions, Abra-
ham flied out to centerfield, sending
the game to extra innings.
That's when Penn State's Cory
Wine took matters into his own
hands. Michigan reliever Michael Reds
Powers retired the first two batters a sho
of the 10th inning. With the count
full, Wine sent a solo shot over the T
rightfieldwallthatwouldultimately
be the winning run of the ballgame.
"We made a lot of really good
pitches," Maloney said. "But we
made about three pitches that were
really bad at really bad times, and
to their credit they answered, when
we made a mistake they took advan-
tage of it, and that was part of never
getting momentum."
Even after a weekend of disap-
pointment, the Wolverines still
earned themselves a spot in the
NCAA Tournament.
But Michigan had to play the
waiting game until the selection
committee released the field of
64 Monday to see if it received an
at-large bid. And waiting was not
something Maloney enjoyed.
"I've been through this a few
different times and I would have
much rather felt like we just took
the bull by the horns and got (an T
automatic bid) ourselves," Maloney
said. "Now, I don't know, I can't tell
you, it's disheartening for the sea-
son we've had because it has been a
special season."
Putnam, who was Michigan's start-
ing pitcher against Ohio State,
about the Buckeyes' early surge. "I
mean, I take that personally when
they come out and put up three
runs in the first inning. ... But it's
nine innings of baseball and you
can't lie down. It's hard to win a
college baseball game when (we)
only scored two runs."
Michigan had a combined 25 hits
in bothgames, but its failure to con-
vert those hits into runs prevented
the "big inning" that was the team's
trademark during its successful
regular season. The Wolverines
will try to regain to their early-sea-
son form Friday against Memphis.

hirt sophomore Michael Powers and the Wolverines' inconsistent play made for
rt-lived Big Ten Tournament appearance this weekend.

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BASEBALL
From page 13
offensive spurt came while trailing
5-2 in the ninth inning against Penn
State. Michigan tallied two runs
early in the inning, assisted by an
error and a wild pitch that helped to
move leftfielder Derek VanBuskirk
and second baseman Kevin Cislo
into scoring position. Both runners
scored on groundouts, leaving the
bases empty with two outs. Hits by
senior centerfielder Eric Rose and
junior first baseman Nate Reckna-
gel put runners on first and third.
With two outs, down by one run

and with Michigan's Big Ten Tour-
nament hopes on the line, cleanup
hitter Zach Putnamsingled to right-
center, scoring Rose and sending
the game into extra innings.
But a 10th-inning solo homer
proved to be the difference for the
Nittany Lions, ending the Wolver-
ines' hopes for a repeat.
Both of Michigan's losses were
marked by first-inning deficits and
missed opportunities. The Wolver-
ines allowed three runs in the first
inning against Ohio State and two
against Penn State to find them-
selves in an unfamiliar situation
- down early.
"It's definitely a buzzkill," said

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