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May 03, 2011 - Image 10

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2011-05-03

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Tuesday, May 3,2011
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
'M' swept with back-to-back walk-off finishes

By ZACH HELFAND
Daily Sports Writer
COLUMBUS - Some members
of the Michigan baseball team col-
lapsed to the infield dirt at Ohio
State's Bill Davis Stadium on Satur-
day. Others
just put their MICHIGAN 2
hands atop OHIO STATE 7
their heads
with expres- MICHIGAN 6
sions that OHIO STATE 7
seemed to
indicate they
had seen this MICHIGAN 3
before. OHIO STATE 4
Theyhad.
In all three games of the Wol-
verines' series against Ohio State
(9-6 Big Ten, 19-18 overall), Michi-
gan jumped out to a lead in the first
inning. In all three games, the-Wol-
verines let the Buckeyes get right
back in it
After losing Friday's opener 7-2,
Michigan (6-9, 13-28) fought back
after falling behind or squandering
a lead in both games of Saturday's
double header. They lost both con-
tests - 7-6 in the first, 4-3 in the
nightcap.
Both in extra innings.
It was dsja vu.
The defeated expressions on the
faces of the players and coaches said
it all. It was the look of a team that
had victory within its grasp twice

in the double header Saturday, only
to watch its archrival sprint onto
the field in celebration two different
times. The sweep was Ohio State's
first over Michigan in 15 years.
"I don'tthink many people can say
that they've lost in extras on walk-
off plays like that," redshirt senior
Anthony Toth said. "It's just heart-
breaking because there's no one that
was here today that can question
anybody's heart or passion."
An infield single wasthe dagger in
the first game Saturday. Sophomore
shortstop Derek Dennis made an
acrobatic diving grab on a grounder
by redshirt senior third baseman
Matt Streng, but he had no chance
at a throw and the winning run
crossed the plate. Had the hit been
a foot more towards Dennis, the
inningwould have ended.
In the-nightcap, just a few inches
decided the game. Greg Solomon
smashed a double in the tenth inning,
just out of the reach of sophomore
center fielder Patrick Biondi. Biondi
managed to knock the ball down, but
was inches away from a spectacular
catch. The next batter grounded to
Dennis, who threw to third instead
of getting the out at first. The throw
was wide of junior third baseman
John Lorenz, and Solomon came
around for the Buckeyes' second
consecutive walk-off.
"I thought Derek Dennis played
a marvelous shortstop," Michi-

gan coach Rich Maloney said. "It's
unfortunate he was playing to win,
tried to make a play. My instinct,
and I'm a shortstop, was the same
instinct that he had."
But Michigan had plenty of
opportunities to win. After surren-
dering a one-run lead in the eighth
inning of the first game Saturday,
the Wolverines capitalized on two
of Ohio State's six errors and went
ahead 6-3 in the ninth behind junior
left fielder Coley Crank's two-run
home run. They gave all three runs
back the next half inning.
After the deflating loss, Michigan
was quiet for much of the nightcap
but came back from a two-run deficit
in the eighth to tie the game at three
apiece. The Wolverines looked like
they would do what the Buckeyes
did to them earlier that day: steal one
they should have lost.
Michigan had all the momen-
tum. Freshman right fielder Michael
O'Neill made a game-saving play
when he threw out redshirt Buckeye
right fielder Brian DeLucia at home
plate in the eighth inning.
In the end, none of it was enough.
"It hurts real bad if you're a Mich-
igan man," Maloney said. "It hurts to
lose period, and it hurts to lose three
games to your rival. On top of it, los-
ing the way that we lost."
Freshman first baseman Josh
Dezse paced the Buckeyes the whole
series. His three-run home run in

the first inning in Friday's 7-2 Ohio
State victory was the difference in
the game.
Dezse went 6-for-10 on the series
with six RBI, and Michigan inten-
tionally walked him twice.
On the mound, Dezse also struck
out every batter he faced. He pitched
an inning on Friday and recorded
the win in one inning-of work in Sat-
urday's first game.
"He's killingthe ball," O'Neill said
of Dezse, his high-school teammate

and friend. "That's the best I've ever
seen him play."
Just don't expect O'Neill to take
much solace in the fact that his
friend is the one celebrating a series
victory that could have easily gone to
the Wolverines.
"It's-going to be 'a long bus ride
home," O'Neill said. "When you lose
two games in extra innings, when
you're one hit away, one play away
from taking the series, and then you
just got swept ... it sucks."

4

Trio of losses a harsh homecoming for three Michigan players

By DANIEL WASSERMAN
Daily Sports Writer
COLUMBUS - This weekend
had been circled in red ink on Michi-
gan's calendar for a longtime.
It wasn't just a series with the
capability of becoming a turning
point to separate two teams tied
for fourth in the congested Big Ten
standings. It was Michigan and Ohio
State. The rivalry.
But for three Wolverines, it wasn't
just about facing their bitter rivals; it
was a homecoming.
And given Michigan's outcome,
it made the losses - two of which
came in back-to-back double-header
fashion in extra innings - that much
harder to swallow.
"It sucks, especially to those
guys," freshman rightfielder
Michael O'Neill said of the losses.
Fifth-year senior captain and
second baseman Anthony Toth - a
native of suburban Cleveland - was

a lifelong Buckeye fan until the Wol-
verines offered him a chance to play
college baseball, something Ohio
State didn't offer.
Sophomore shortstop Derek Den-
nis was born in Ohio and grew up a
Buckeye fan until moving to Michi-
gan when he was seven.
But neither was as excited to
returnto their home state as O'Neill.
O'Neill, who grew up in the shadows
of the Ohio State campus, has been
talking for weeks about returning
home to play in front of friends, fam-
ily and most notably, against his best
friend: Buckeye freshman first base-
man and pitcher Josh Dezse.
But it was a Dezse-led Ohio
State squad that got the best of the
Wolverines. Dezse went 6-for-10
with six RBI, including a three-run
homer over O'Neill in right field. He
also closed out two games, striking
out all six batters he faced.
"(Dezse) had an unbelievable
weekend, so props to him," O'Neill

said. "He played phenomenal. That's
the best I've ever seen him play."
Added Michigan coach Rich
Maloney: "You've got to give Josh
Dezse a tremendous amount ofcred-
it. If he's not the (Big Ten) Player of
the Week, then I don't know who is."
Though O'Neill hit just 2-for-13
on the weekend, things weren't all
bad for the right fielder.
His fifth-inning single in the first
game of the Saturday double header
evened the score at two, and he later
scored the game-tying run in the
eighth inning of the nightcap.
Then in the bottom-half of the
eighth, a two-out single into right
field prompted Ohio State's manager
to send home his lead-off man, Brian
DeLucia, from second. But O'Neill
showed off his rocket-for-an-arm,
gunning down DeLucia at home for
the final out of the inning.
But when O'Neill reached base in
the 10th inning of the same game,
he was caught stealing to end the

inning with junior catcher Coley
Crank - the Wolverines' most pro-
ductive hitter - left standing in the
batter's box without a chance to play
hero. Ohio State scored the next
inningto complete the sweep.
Toth - playing in his last career
series against the Buckeyes - made
two of his team-leading nine errors
on Saturday. An error in game one of
the double header led to an unearned
run by Ohio State in a game it went
on to win by one. Junior third base-
man John Lorenz fielded a grounder
and threw to second to try to get the
lead runner, but Toth dropped the
ball. The runner later scored, allow-
ing the Buckeyes to tie the game
enteringthe ninth.
But no one struggled more than
sophomore shortstop Derek Den-
nis. Dennis was just 1-for-13 from
the plate with eightstrikeouts, while
leaving seven men on base.
"Yeah, that was rough," Maloney
said. "He did struggle."

But the most notable moment
from Dennis over the weekend
didn't come from the plate. It came
from the shortstop position, where
he was otherwise spectacular. With
one out and a runner on third in the
bottom of the 10th inning in the
series finale, Dennis fielded a routine
grounder. Instead of throwing to
first for the second out, he rushed his
throw to try to get the lead runner
out at third. The throw went astray.
Moments later, the Buckeyes
were celebrating on the field while
a stunned Dennis was left sitting,
hanging his head to avoid watching
the celebrating that ensued from his
error.
For the three players that hail
from Ohio, they couldn't leave the
state any sooner. But the outcomes of
three games have the ability to turn
a three-hour drive into an eternity.
"As much as it sucks, this is going
to be a long bus ride home," O'Neill
said.

4

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