Game 3 of the series wasn’t even close. Michigan was shut out… again. This time the culprit wasn’t strikeouts, but rather double plays. Michigan stranded 9 in this game, but grounded into a crippling 3 double plays. While the first two games of the series might have come off as solid losses, this one was just a flat out pantsing.
We’ll start with pitching. It was bad. Moving on… okay, fine, unlike BigTenHardball, I guess I have to address it… pitching. Travis Smith has kept his pattern of good start bad start alive. A week after throwing 6 innings with 8 Ks and 2 earned runs, Smith collapsed early, giving up 9 hits and 7 runs (all earned) in just 2 1/3 innings of work. After Smith gave up a homerun to clear the bases with one out in the third, Wood came in to stop the bleeding, but gave up a walk and an RBI double. It was 7-0 after three, and the game was pretty much over.
Matt Miller pitched a pair of scoreless innings in the 5th and 6th, by far the bright spot on the mound for Michigan. Vangheluwe and Dufek closed out the game with an inning a piece. Vangheluwe gave up 4 hits and 3 runs while Dufek gave up 3 hits and 2 runs.
Arizona was just on fire this game. They were consistently hitting the ball deep to the outfield. Our outfield recorded 11 put outs, several balls made it past our right fielders. Urban and Oaks are definitely in the game for their offensive prowess and not their speed or jumps on fly balls. A couple balls landed just outside of their reach, some bouncing all the way out to the fence.
Fellows on the other hand continued his great defensive performance this weekend. In a weekend with such poor results, it would be easy to miss his glove, but it definitely saved a few runs in each game this series. He had another catch at full extension to save a double and a run in this one.
At the plate, Michigan had trouble even getting on base. Arizona starter Bandilla combined with relievers Doyle and Roach to shut down the Wolverine bats, allowing 6 hits with 3 walks. Bandilla also hit two batters, but it didn’t end up affecting the score.
The closest Michigan came to scoring was in the first inning. Cilso lead off with a double, and Fellows followed that up with a single up the middle just past the shortstop. Cislo had to hesitate to make sure the ball made it past the infielder, and that was just enough to allow the Arizona centerfielder to gun him at the plate.
Unlike previous games where strikeouts were the problem, grounding into double plays were the culprit here. With one out in the third and runners at first and second, LaMarre ended the inning on a 4-6-3 double play. With a runner on first and one out in the 5th, Urban ended the inning with a 4-6-3 of his own. Toth ended the 5th with a 6u-3 double play. So that was the 3rd, 4th, and 5th innings all ending in double plays.
The double play in the fifth inning was the final dagger in Michigan’s coffin. The only hit after this would come in the 7th on a Mike Dufek lead off single. By the 8th, Kittle and Stephens had both entered the game for “garbage” time.
Positives from the game? For the beat down we received it only lasted 2 hours 47 minutes. We didn’t have to face Stoffel again. We don’t have to worry about Arizona for the rest of the year.
- Matt Miller – 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H
- Kenny Fellows’ Defense – Along with his 5 put outs, he had at least one catch that saved a run, and several more that prevented extra bases.
- Only 5 team strikeouts?
- Travis Smith’s consistent inconsistency – Despite the record, he’s had good start/bad start/good start/bad start this season, this one is 2 1/3 IP, 9 H, 7 Rs, 2 Ks
- Relief pitching outside of Miller – 3 2/3 IP, 10 H, 7 R
- Ryan LaMarre – Hitting streak ends at 10 (this really isn’t a goat, everyone has nights like this)
For those of you who didn’t click the link in Game 3, it takes you to a scoreboard update by BigTenHardball. In it, there was one other score that really caught my eye. IPFW 1, Purdue 0. We play IPFW in our home opener on Friday. I definitely didn’t think I’d be worrying about losing to the Mastadons, but now I’m second guessing our chance at a home sweep this weekend.
As for what Arizona means to the season, it doesn’t mean too much. I think we have a hard time making the NCAA tournament without some major muscle flexing in the Big10 conference season or winning the tournament. We’ll have a chance to make up some of our RPI during the conference season, something that generally isn’t true. Ohio State and Illinois are both in the top 50 in RPI right now, but even their’s will drop as they face the Northwesterns and Iowas of the Big10.
I think it is imp0rtant to remind all of you, as it even escapes me sometimes that Michigan is built to win the Big10, not compete with the top programs in other conferences. JJ in the comments was nice enough to remind me of this the other day. We’re a mid major. We win our conference tournament and try to surprise people when it comes NCAA time. We’re not out there dominating the Rice’s and the Texas’s in the regular season. We earn our bid and move along.