The best news is a win is a win. Even in this game that was fairly uneventful to the average fan, there were a couple points worth noting.
Katzman struggled pretty bad for striking out 10 batters. It wasn’t that he wasn’t making good pitches, but he just wasn’t being “economical” with his pitch count. Eric threw at least 5 pitches to 13 of the 23 batters he faced. His breaking balls just weren’t getting close enough to the zone. I do like the idea of being “effectively wild” to keep batters off balance, but I also think there is a limit on how many extra pitches can be afforded. This balance is what has plagued Katzman on his off days. He tends to walk or hit more batters, causing bigger problems. So while we see the benefits of the wildness today, keep in mind that its high risk/high reward. Despite the final line from Katzman, I’d just call this a really good game, but not a great one.
Matt Miller on the other hand did a better job of getting ahead of hitters and putting them away. His 5 strikeouts, as described by the radio broadcasters, were the product of painting both sides of the plate and general changing of location. Batters were left guessing which side of the plate the ball would be coming, and then flailed wildly at the hard sliders. Great job by Matt.
The offense managed to score three runs in the first from a LaMarre sacrifice fly and Mike Dufek two run homerun. Alan Oaks also generated offense in the second inning. After singling, he stole second, but with a throwing error on the catcher, was able to advance to third. Toth then suicide squeezed him in with a bunt down the first baseline. The pitcher Herrold had no choice but to go to first base.
After that, the offense managed to shoot itself in the foot inning after inning. Each inning from the third to the eighth, Michigan managed only three batters each inning. In the 3rd, 4th, 6th, and 7th, the Wolverines managed to get a baserunner on; each inning that runner was put out. Alan Oaks grounded into two inning ending double plays. Jake McLouth lined back to the pitcher which caught Ryan LaMarre off guard at first leading to him being double up. In the 6th, Kenny Fellows was caught leaning on a pick off play. It was pretty ugly.
The IPFW pitcher Herrold was both effective and lucky. Every inning he found an out, allowing him to stay in the game. He ended with 8 innings, 6 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts. All-in-all, a really good outing against us.
After two close games, I really think IPFW is just having tough luck with the RPI. Their team is at least as good as any of the BigEast teams we’ve played this year, and I fully expect them to make some headlines with some Mid Week games later in the season. They’ll knock off a couple more Big10 teams here and there.