Orientation Edition 2008
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Michigan coach Rich Maloney has his team rising through the college baseball ranks. After upsetting
No.1 overall seed Vanderbilt to win an NCAA regional last year, the Wolverines were one of six regional
hosts this year. The future looks bright for Michigan's oldest varsity sport.
in A2 Regional
Alan Oaks celebrates with teammates after his 10th-inning homer helped Michigan upset No.1 Vanderbilt in a reginnal last year
Miracle in the Music City
By ANDY REID three straight Wolverine batters.
Daily Sports Writer As the game entered extra
innings, the Vanderbilt faithful
June 5, 2007 - NASHVILLE, jumped to their feet, practically
Tenn..- Michigan baseball coach shaking the stadium with a noise
Rich Maloney just got a new hair- level never before seen at Hawkins
cut - and there isn't much hair Field. As the cheap seats boomed
left. with yells of "Black!" and fans
That's because of a promise he behind the dugout responded with
made to the Wolverines before "Gold!," Price and the Commo-
their improbable 4-3 upset of No. 1 dores appeared destined for vic-
Vanderbilt to win their first NCAA tory.
Regional since 1984. Enter freshman Alan Oaks and
Maloney told his team that if it his .188 batting average and just
pulled off its second win over the nine hits all year.
Commodores in three days, he Oaks would go on to change the
would completely shave his head. course of Michigan baseball histo-
And after the Wolverines exhil- ry with one swing ofthe batagainst
arating win over the top-ranked the best pitcher in the nation.
team in the country Monday, he's Maloney, made the decision to
done just that. pinch hit Oaks just two pitches
Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin before the freshman stepped up to
decided he would pull out all the the plate. And the decision was all
stops in his team's comeback effort or nothing.
after the Commodores rallied from "I told him before he went out
down 3-1 to tie the game. In the there, 'You're not there to get
bottom of the eighth, NCAA Play- walked. You're there to get a hit,'
er of the Year and probable No. 1 " Maloney said. "He has hit mam-
overall pick of the upcoming MLB moth home runs in practice."
Draft, David Price came out of the Ahead in the count 2-0, Oaks
bullpen. took a swing at Price's next fast-
The crowd of more than 3,500 ball.
Commodore fans erupted as Price The White Lake native put the
took his place on the mound. And barrel on the ball and sent a shot
he showed what all the hype was over the wall in left center. The
about by quickly taking care of Wolverines exploded out of the
dugout, crowding around home
plate to shower Oaks with back
slaps and high fives.
"I can't really put it into words
yet," Oaks said. "I hardly even .
remember running the bases
because the adrenaline was pump-
ing. It's definitely one of the great-
est highlights off my baseball
career, if not the highlight.
"If someone would have told me
(about my game-winning home-
run) before the game, I just would
have looked at him and said, 'yeah,
nice joke.' "
Michigan faced a scare in the
bottom the 10th, but junior left-
fielder Derek VanBuskirk's spec-
tacular catch near the top of the
outfield wall for the second out
helped earn redshirt sophomore
Michael Powers the save.
The Wolverinesvictory prompt-
tossing celebration, culminating in
a massive maize-and-blue dog pile
on the pitcher's mound.
Maloney's days of running
his fingers through his hair have
ended, but the same can't be said
for Michigan's season. The Wol-
verines will play next weekend
in a best-of-three Super Regional
at Oregon State. If they win that,
they'll be headed to Omaha, Neb.
- and the College World Series.
By JASON KOHLER
Daily Sports Writer
June 2, 2008 - The Michigan
baseball team thought it would
be charging onto the field at Ray
Fisher Stadium after a victory yes-
After all, the Wolverines were
hosting the NCAA regional. They
had already beaten Kentucky a day
earlier, so another win over the
Wildcats was in their grasp.
But the only hugs the Michigan
baseball players gave after a 12-6
loss to Rentucky were consolatory
"It's over now," junior third
baseman Adam Abraham said. "I
don't have any regrets. We played
hard. In the end we did everything
we could, and it just wasn't quite
The night before, the 16th-
ranked Wolverines (46-14) lost a
heartbreaking game against No.
23 Arizona, 4-3, and were pushed
into the loser's bracket. No. 24
Kentucky (44-18 overall) then
eliminated the Wolverines from
the NCAA Tournament.
The Wildcats didn't waste time
tearing apart Michigan. The best
hitting team in the Southeastern
Conference (.319 combined batting
average) scored seven runs in the
Michigan coach Rich Malo-
ney started lefty sophomore Jeff
DeCarlo on the mound because of
a favorable matchup against Ken-
tucky's left-hand-heavy lineup,
even though DeCarlo had pitched
just 15 innings entering the game.
He still had 15 after the game.
Maloney pulled his starter with
the bases loaded before he ever
recorded an out.
"We thought the matchup, left
on left, was the right matchup,"
Maloney said. "As it turned out, we
didn't get it done."
Junior Ben Jenzen relieved
DeCarlo and allowed all three
runners to score, letting in four of
his own before the inning ended.
"If you really look at our season,
we only lost 14 times, and teams
had to get us in the first inning,"
Maloney said. "If they didn't get us
in the first inning, we didn't lose
too many games."
Michigan clawed back when
junior Zach Putnam hit a three-
run home run in the fourth inning,
and fifth-year senior Leif Mahler
had an RBI double in the fifth to
pull the Wolverines within three
"In the dugout, we thought
we had a chance," Abrahamsaid.
"They just came up with some
good plays on us. You need to have
breaks in this tournament, and we
definitely didn't get any breaks."
Michigan had chances to close
the gap even more, putting run-
ners on base every inning. But the
Wolverines also left men on base
every inning - 17 in all. The Wol-
verines actually out-hit Kentucky
16-12, but the Wildcats stranded
just five runners.
"We just didn't get the timely
hits the way we needed to in order
to win the tournament," Maloney
said. "We just didn't get the hits to
knock in the runs. Sometimes that
Michigan had arguably its best
season in the program's recent his-
tory. Its Big Ten record for most
wins in a season (26) will likely
never be broken because the con-
ference season will be reduced to
24 games next year. The Wolver-
ines had their most wins in a sea-
son since 1989. And for the first
time since 1986, Ann Arbor hosted
But all its accomplishments
were soured with two losses this
"We were flying high to win this
tournament and had alot of confi-
dence in this team with good rea-
son," Putnam said. "It just knocks
the wind right out of you."