Q&A with Behind the Plate

April 20, 2009

So comes another weekend series against a BigTen foe with a blog. I like it. This week I’ll be doing some Q&A with


Weekend Recap: MSU

April 19, 2009

There is a lot of suck in game 1 and 2, but game 3 went well.

Game 1

Box Score R H E
Michigan 0 0 4 0 0 0 0 1 0 2 0 7 10 3
MSU 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 2 2 1 8 11 1

W – Wonderlich (4-4) L – Eric Katzman (5-3) Sv – None

Michigan jumped ahead in this one with a big 3rd inning, but the defense kept creating new ways to let State get back into the game.  In the third, Lorenz made a throwing error trying to get a runner at the plate.  That would have been out number two and the insuing fly ball would be the end of the inning.  Instead a run scored, and the fly ball was a sacrifice fly to bring in another.

In the fifth, Fetter made his only mistake of the game, a lead off homerun on the first pitch of the inning.  In the 9th, with the lead, Tyler Burgoon fielded a sacrifice bunt and went to second for the close play on the lead runner.  The ball went into the outfield.  Two runs would score unearned.

In the 10th, the bullpen fell apart.  Burgoon let two runners on, Miller faced one batter (a walk), and Katzman gave up a few hits.  Two runs would score and we’d blow our second save of the game.  In the 11th, the winning run would reach on a Anthony Toth error.  It was awful.

Offense looked good though.  The bottom of the order produced very well and we were getting the timely hits.  We only stranded 6 runners the whole game.  Unfortunately, it takes more than just scoring runs to win ball games – you’ve got to play defense.

Notable Stars

  • Chris Fetter – 8 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 6 K, ND
  • Mike Dufek – 1/4 3 RBI, R, HR, SACF
  • Anthony Toth – 3/5 R, RBI
  • Chris Berset – 2/5 R, 2B

Notable Goats

  • Defense – Toth/Lorenz/Burgoon.  Errors lead to 5(!) unearned runs.  Burgoon’s blew a save, Toth’s lead to the final MSU run
  • Bullpen – Along with Burgoon’s error, he had two earned runs (Miller/Katzman inherited them and couldn’t finish the inning).  Miller faced one batter and walked him.

Other Notes

Game 2

Box Score R H E
MSU 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 3 6 1
Michigan 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0

W – Achter (2-3) L – Alan Oaks (0-2) Sv – Wolff(4)

See: Why We Lost MSU Game 2.  I think that touches nearly all the bad I wanted to touch upon.

As for the good, Alan Oaks pitched the game of his college career.  Maloney said he earned the start and did he ever make the most of it.  It is sickening he took the loss in this game.  Alan only gave up 3 runs in the start, one from a balk with two outs and a runner on third (ouch); the other came from a one out walk followed by 3 2-out hits.  Oaksie gave up 5 hits, walked 5 and hit a batter, but he managed his base runners well, working his way out of trouble. He even recorded four strikeouts, 2 coming in an inning where he had runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out.

Notable Stars

  • Alan Oaks – 7.2 IP, 3 ER, 5 BB, 1 HBP, 4 K, 1 Balk, 121 Pitches, 65 Strikes
  • Chris Berset – 2/4 RBI
  • Jim Abbott – Retired his #31 jersey, signed autographs for nearly an hour and a half
  • Attendance – Officially 3453.  Highest of the season.

Notable Goats

Other Notes

  • My one regret:  Chris Berset was on deck to end the game.
  • The Ann Arbor News – Frustrating.

“Timely hitting … you can’t teach it. It just has to happen,” Maloney said. “… Right now for our team, things haven’t been going real well.

Game 3

Box Score R H E
Michigan 0 0 2 0 4 0 0 1 2 9 12 0
MSU 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 7 0

W – Eric Katzman (6-3) L – Corcoran (0-4) Sv – Miller (3).

Thank god we won one to avert the first series sweep in at least 8 years.  This game is everything I expected from the Michigan team this year.  I expected us to hit well.  I expected the pitching to be a little shaky but pull through.  I expected us to take care of lesser opponents.  Finally, for the first time all season, I saw Michigan baseball.

Eric Katzman, who apparently wants to earn a decision as often as possible, started this game and did fairly well.  He wasn’t outstanding, but he was “good Katzman.”  He didn’t have the best control, but he got outs.  He just ran out of gas after 120 pitches, leading to the two runs scored.  Matt Miller on the other hand was lights out for the 3+ innings of work.

Everything was clicking on offense.  The top of the lineup was on base every inning and the middle of the lineup got the timely hitting to knock them in.  Even John Lorenz had a great game knocking in 3 runs.

This game has me excited.

Notable Stars

  • Mike Dufek – 2/4  2 R, 3 RBI, 2B
  • Kenny Fellows – 3/5 2 R, SB
  • John Lorenz – 2/4  3 RBI
  • Kevin Cislo – 2/5  2 R
  • Matt Miller – 3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K, Save

Notable Goats

  • I got nothing.  This was good Michigan baseball.
  • McLane Stadium Press Box for not having audio capabilities installed yet.

Other Notes

  • No news stories yet.

Wrap Up

This weekend was a bunch of gray clouds with a silver lining.  We lost two of three to lowly Michigan State, a team who ranks in the 260s of 288 in team hitting.  We lost to an in state rival, who we haven’t lost a series to since I don’t even know when – at least 8 years.  We beat ourselves so badly in the first two games. We’ve dropped into 8th place in the Big10.  We’re in jeopardy of missing the BigTen Tournament for the first time since 2002.

And then Sunday happened.  While Game 3 was Michigan Baseball like I expected all season.  Game 3 offers hope.  Perhaps, just maybe, we finally had that “turning point” so many people have talked about the last 4 weeks.  Perhaps Michigan has finally hit stride and will begin to compete.  Perhaps I’m being to optimistic.  Perhaps not. This game has me excited for the rest of the BigTen season.

Speaking about the rest of the season, it’s the midway point of the conference season, so I’ll be breaking down what happened so far and what we can expect to come in a post due out either later today or tomorrow.  As for the week ahead, we’ve got a home-and-home with Notre Dame on Tuesday/Wednesday.  Tuesday is here at the Fish.  The weekend sees the Indiana Hoosiers and probable BigTen Player of the Year Josh Phegley come to Ann Arbor.  More updates on those as the week progresses.

Draft: Half Way Through

April 18, 2009

Disclaimer: This post will be updated and posted on VB on either Monday or Tuesday after the Recap comes out.  I just wanted to get on it before I got busy with school and work on Monday.

With the Michigan State Series wrapping up today, the BigTen Conference season has reached the midpoint.  The conference season hasn’t fared so well for Michigan, obviously, as the Wolverines are currently 4-7 in 8th place.  Lets take a look back at what we’ve seen, then look forward to what we have left to know what we have to do to make a solid run, and finally end up with my projections to the finish.

Where We’ve Been

Series Record 2-1
Scores 4-3 1-2 7-5
Game 1 Fetter gives up 3 early, but clamps down for the CG, and the comeback win
Game 2 Katzman/Miller/Burgoon combine to 6-hit Iowa but lose as we have no offense
Game 3 With snow piled up in the warning track, an ugly game defensively for both teams.  We out hit and take advantage of 5 Iowa errors.
Outlook then We should have swept, but this series shouldn’t affect a tournament bid.

We should have swept.  Iowa is one of only two teams below us in the standings.  We definitely need that win now. Iowa’s season has been a slow spiral downward. They took one game from Purdue, were swept by Indiana, and split with Northwestern. Iowa isn’t a good team and we squandered that game.

vs Penn State
Series Record 1-2
Scores 4-6 (10) 9-5 5-16
Game 1 Fetter gives up 3 in the 4th and 1 in the fifth, but offense went to sleep and Miller gave up two in the 10th.
Game 2 Katzman pitched well, but PSU scored a 5 spot late from a LaMarre error, we scored 5 to answer in the bottom of that inning.
Game 3 We never stood a chance as Smith/Wilson/Sinnery/Gerbe give up 16 runs(12 earned).  Total blowout.
Outlook then My expectations for the team are falling pretty fast. With the massive amount of inconsistency, added with the sloppy play all weekend on defense, I’m not sure we get higher than a 4 seed in the BTT now.

We’re pretty equal to Penn State.  They are currently right at .500 in conference play.  We’ll be fighting them head to head for a 6th spot in the tournament.  Losing the series to them hurts as it is the tie breaker.

vs Illinois
Series Record 1-2
Scores 4-2 8-10 5-11
Game 1 Fetter goes the distance again with 13 Ks. Offense scrapes by.
Game 2 We knock out the Big10s best pitcher (along with possible injury) out after 1 inning.  Sloppy defense in the 5th gives up 5 runs.
Game 3 Alan Oaks kept the team in the game after a shaky Smith start.  Unfortunately he stayed in about 3 batters too long, leading to a late 4 run inning.
Outlook then I don’t think this was too bad of a weekend for the team. Illinois is one of the better teams in the conference this season, especially in the pitching department. There were a few lapses though, especially on defense.

This still wasn’t a bad series.  We could have performed a little bit better, but the outcome is about what I would have expected.  Illinois is a strong team and toward the top of the BigTen standings.  They’ll be a top 3 seed in the tournament.

@/vs Michigan State
Series Record 0-2
Scores 7-8 (11) 1-3 0-0
Game 1 Fetter gives up 3 (1 earned) in 8 innings, leaving with the lead. Burgoon blows the save by overthrowing 2nd base on a sac bunt.  He blows the win again in the 10th giving up 2 earned runs.  Katzman takes the loss in the 11th.
Game 2 Alan Oaks throws the game of his career, 7.2 innings, 3 Rs, 5 BB, 4 K. No offense as we only get 5 total bases.
Game 3 TBD
Outlook then TBD

Then is now. It still sucks.  Michigan State defends their homefield well, but we would have won Game 1 if not for the bullpen.  We should have won Game 2 if not for the lack of offense.  Would have, should have, didn’t.

Where We’re Going

Indiana (6-3):  The Hoosiers are a great hitting team and have probably the best offensive player in the BigTen with Josh Phegley.  The Hoosiers have players in the top 3 of nearly every offensive category in BigTen play.  They also rank third in the league in strikeouts.  The Hoosiers split a pair with Minnesota, took 2 of 3 from Illinois, swept Iowa, and took 2 of 3 from Penn State.   We may take one game in this series.  I fear the Sunday game.

@#26 Ohio State (7-3): Everything the Hoosiers do, Ohio State does better.  The Buckeyes sit atop the BigTen standing and will have a hostile home crowd.  They took 2 from Penn State, 1 from Minnesota, swept Michigan State, and swept Purdue.  My prediction: pain.  I again think we have a shot to win a game, but it’s not a very high chance.  The one thing we’ve got going for us is no midweek games so the entire bullpen should be rested.  Game 1 of Fetter vs Wimmers should be epic (aka most of you will find it boring as all hell).

Minnesota (7-3): Minnesota completes our three game streak of tough competition.  The Gophers are ranked in some polls – deservedly so.  Offensively, their numbers match up to Michigan’s very well, but they get that extra hit to drive in the run where Michigan has failed consistently all year.  On the pitching side, they are exactly opposite of Michigan… they are consistently good.  Minnesota split a pair with Indiana, took 2 of three from Ohio State, swept Northwestern, and took 1 of three from Illinois.  The outlook doesn’t look good right now.  It’ll be a struggle to win a game here.  The only good news I can offer is we do better against good pitchers than we do meh pitchers.

@Northwestern (2-7):  Northwestern is the worst team in the BigTen.  They are the worst hitting team in the BigTen and they don’t pitch particularly well.  They rival Michigan State for fewest strikeouts, but sit 7th in BigTen team ERA.  I see us winning at least two games in this series, most likely a sweep.  But as we’ve seen all season, we have a tendency to blow games to inferior teams.

I really think we end up with 6 or 7 wins out of that schedule, especially the way we’re playing right now.  That leaves us with a conference record around 10-13 or 11-12 for the season.  The cut of for the tournament is historically around 12 wins (actually ~=16 wins, but we moved from 4 game series to 3 this year, 16*.75=12).  We’ll be very close to making the 6 seed to keep our 6 year conference tournament streak alive.

Interview With An Umpire

April 17, 2009

I’ve been saving this post for about a week and a half for a lull period.  I’ve been too busy to work up too much, so its good as time as any to put this out there. -FA

Eric Sorenson, who I quote here often, does some amazing topics at his site CollegeBaseballToday.com. In his most recent post, he interviewed Dave Yeast, one of the top umpires in college baseball. I found it absolutely fascinating and thought I’d share some thoughts.

This question seemed the strangest to me:

What’s the toughest call to make?

Dave Yeast:
The checked swing. Because it is so fast. It is just so fast. Most of the time you just make the call on gut instinct. It’s almost impossible to tell if the bat crossed the front edge of plate or if it went past the hip of the batter. At that speed, and if you’re standing 120 feet away, if you can honestly tell me if that’s a swing or not, I’ll give you the shirt off my back.

Perhaps its my inexperience, or perhaps its the vagueness of the rule, but I don’t find this too hard.  The rule states it is a swing if the ball made an attempt at contacting the ball.  How far the bat travels should have nothing to do with if he swang.  Yes, those visual cues can help an umpire decide if it was an attempt or not, but they have no meaning in terms of a swing.  Examples of “swings” that are not a true swing would be a batter turning toward the pitcher on an inside pitch.  While the bat may come around, it’s not a strike.  The same thing with a bunt attempt where the batter may not pull the bat back all the way.  If during a bunt, the bat does not make an attempt to contact the ball, it doesn’t count as a swing.

I guess his “gut instinct” description may be part of my inexperience coming through.  I haven’t had that many close check swings.  When I have, I make a clear and decisive call whether I’m sure or not.  I think its the same gut instinct, but the call never even is a question in my head.  Once its made, I think I may just sell myself that I saw it and I’m right.

The next question was about how much “chatter” Yeast will take from a player before he throws him out.  I skipped through some of the less interesting stuff, but a part of it grabbed my attention as it touched on a previous post of mine (Balls and Strikes Question).

I tell the catchers I work with right from the start, “Call me Dave. If you have a question, ask it. No problem. Just don’t yell at me.”

I am trying to build a relationship with them because we are going to be out there for three hours, so it is in my best interest and the game’s best interest to get along with him. But if a catcher puts up too much of an attitude right off the bat or gets belligerent as the game goes along, that’s when I “divorce” him, as I call it. And I can turn into a real jerk if I get THAT kind of attitude.

The guys in my profession know that there’s a real fine line between being assertive and in control and becoming a jerk about things. if you cross that boundary, I can’t lose control of the game. I don’t put up with any bullshit after that.

I’ve been lucky that most catchers I’ve worked with have been pretty good kids.  I’ve had one or two who try to protect their pitchers a little too much, but nothing where he’s mouthing at me.  The worst I’ve had was a catcher I called out on strikes for the third out of the previous inning.  The kid was steamed, but the pitch I called was obviously a strike.  I try to get the kid to at least laugh at a joke or something to see if he’ll crack a smile.  If he doesn’t, it can become a long inning or so before he cools down.

The rest of the article was pretty good, too.  Yeast went over how he got into umpiring, how he became the top umpire coordinator in college, crowds, and coaches.  Really good read.

Formerly Against: Rick Perry

April 15, 2009

Perry says Texas can leave the union if it wants to
Texas Politics Blog via chron.com
Posted by R.G. Ratcliffe at April 15, 2009 02:27 PM

What the hell is with Rick Perry lately?  Is this guy just that uninformed?  Is he just that radical?  I know he’s been one state’s rights guy for a while, but what is with this current streak of comments.  Well start with this video of his endorsement of HCR 50.

Where do I even start with this? Let’s just bullet point as we go.

  • Let’s start a fairly ad homenim attack (might as well get this out of the way first) with the frog metaphor.  Even the people there audible say “oh, come on.”  What a weird and strange way to start.  On top of that, I’m sure there’s some PETA nut who went nuts hearing that. (2:00 minute mark)
  • To say the U.S. constitution has been “slowly turning up the heat on the states” is wrong.  They only set forth improvements that states wouldn’t do themselves.   See:  Slavery, Women’s voting rights, (2:20 mark)
  • The leaders in the 1780s realized a multi-sided approach of state governance  doesn’t work.  See: Articles of Confederation being replaced.
  • Texas economic strength only happened because oil stayed high due to OPEC and the speculators’ driving the price way up.  Texas isn’t all that solvent in the budget lately.  See:
  • “[…] but when it comes down on the side that favors the side of state’s right over unrestrained federal power, that’s the message.  That’s the right place to be.”  You say that with absolutely no back up evidence.  Why is that?  Is it because it lets the rich over run all of the poor?  Is it because business can overtake the workers?  Government is nothing more than a moral tool.  It has become obvious that corporate greed requires that moral tool to be exercised to protect the lower and middle classes.  Even the lower upper class (those who live in comfort but lack wealth) need help at the current times. (3:54 mark)
  • The U.S. Constitution does give the U.S. Government power over the states. (4:18 mark)  It’s called the supremacy clause:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

  • Texas has learned to live with one form of oppression.  The republican party and their exclusion and hatred for anything resembling liberal.  This includes calling the state congress to meet to only gerrymandering congressional districts to gain republican seats in a year when there was not supposed to be redistricting. (4:31 mark)
  • Did he just say that you either side with political members in Washington or do I side with a group who wants to overthrow the government? (5:03 mark)
  • Does he realize it was George Bush who put together the bailout?
  • He’s promoting Tea Parties? Those are the stupidest thing going on right now.  I planned to protest them but unfortunately had class today.  Most of them happening here are just republican camps protesting socialism.  These people are totally uninformed (much like the governor) and doing it just because FoxNews and Rick Perry are telling them to do it.
  • So Rick, you have spoken in favor of TANF grants from the US Government in the past.  Are you against those dollars returning to the state now?  Those are federal dollars given to you that help needy families.  That’s a string attached.
  • He’s drawing lines in the sand?  Why on earth is he drawing a line in the sand for?  What does that mean?  Is he saying, stop or else?  Is he trying to run for president?  Haven’t people learned what a weak office the Texas governor is?
  • He admittedly is against not protecting new taxes on the people, but the job creators.  BAH!!!

It gets better…
Via R.G. Ratcliffe

That’s an mp3, wordpress.com won’t let me embed it or play it unless I buy more space.  Here’s a transcript of much of it:

“Texas is a unique place. When we came into the union in 1845, one of the issues was that we would be able to leave if we decided to do that,” Perry said. “My hope is that America and Washington in particular pays attention. We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, who knows what may come of that.  But Texas is a very unique place, and a pretty independent lot to boot.” […]

“I don’t believe we quite get into [terrorist state] category.  I have no idea who that numb skull was that wrote that, but I would suggest to you that you probably can’t find them at the Department of Homeland Security Department today.”

The terrorist state comment comes from the recent string of satiring of the Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment document put out by the Department of Homeland Security.  It would seem to me he is threatening the dissolution of the United States.

The thing that stood out to me more was the wrong notion that Texas agreed to split out of the Union if it wanted to.  Realistically, the only privilege the state has is to divide itself up into as many as 5 smaller states.  At this point I’m not sure if Rick is buttering up his consitutents for re-election or a run for President (either US or the Republic of Texas).  Regardless, the guy isn’t coming off intelligent.

As for pitting the state against the nation, I think its a crappy move, but I’m sure it motivates way too many republicans in these parts.  Far too many of them hear Democrat and they naturally assume they want to make the nation communist.

General disclaimer: I don’t necessarily like the use of all the tax money in the bailouts to financial institutions or especially the auto industry, but the increased limited unemployment insurance is good in my opinion.  There are several good things Perry and our state legislature will not allow to be brought into the state.  That I don’t like at all.

Stat Watch Data Sets Up at ManyEyes

April 14, 2009

I haven’t been able to embed the data in, but its available for your visualization at manyeyes.  Click on the titles to go there and play with them yourself.  I’ll try to figure out how to embed them at Vblue later

Team Hitting

Main Starter Sortable

Weekend Recap: Illinois

April 13, 2009

Game 1

Box Score R H E
Illinois 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 6 1
Michigan 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 x 4 9 0

W – Chris Fetter (5-1) L – Haig (3-2) Sv – None

BTN Coverage (this will supposedly work on VBlue):

Like the guys said, the story of this game was Chris Fetter. In his second complete game of the year, Chris struck out 13 batters (about half the outs in the game), including 7 hitters that went down looking. Fetter was economical with most hitters, only throwing 136 pitches (the exact same number as his last complete game against Penn State). He only allowed 6 hits and two walks. Great game overall. Something I’m interested to keep an eye on is how these back to back complete games affect his pitching down the stretch. Fetter has been quoted by the WBCN crew during the IPFW series that he is shooting for only 120 pitches per game. I can’t blame Maloney for letting the kid get his complete game wins, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Fetter left some games sooner just to protect his arm.

On offense, we scraped to get the runs we did. In the second inning, we managed to avoid a fielder’s choice by utilizing the hit and run, we (unofficially) sacrifice flied a runner from second to third, and got the timely singles to score 2 runs. For the go ahead run in the 7th, we used the sacrifice fly to plate the run.

The positive on offense was sticking to single digit strikeouts and getting baserunners on every inning. The bad was we left runners on base every inning as well, including 4 in scoring position. If there ever was an inning to describe Michigan’s season it has to be the 6th:

Michigan 6th – Toth doubled down the lf line (0-0). Lorenz out at first 1b to 2b, SAC, bunt (0-0); Toth advanced to third. Kalczynski struck out swinging (0-2 FFS). Cislo struck out swinging (2-2 KBBSS). 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.

We get pressure on the other teams early then fade down the stretch. The metaphor works for the season as well. We come out with power, but the power fades as we go along. Sigh…

Notable Stars

  • Chris Fetter – CG, W, 6 H, 13 K, 2 BB, 2 ER
  • Anthony Toth – 2/4  2 R, 3B, 2B
  • Ryan LaMarre – 0/0  R, 4 BB (in 4 at bats, he saw 26 pitches, impressive)
  • Fan Attendance: 1056… best this year.

Notable Goats

  • This was solid game… everyone gets off the hook

Other Notes

  • Other Chris’s daughter caught a fly ball in the Michigan win, quoted to have said this:  “This is one of the best days of my life! And if Michigan wins, it will move into the top ten.”
  • CollegeBaseballToday.com – Chris gets an Honorable Mention in the Big10 Pitchers segment…”When Chris Fetter is on the mound, Michigan becomes one of the best teams in the nation. But beyond him?…”
  • Michigan Daily – Liveblog Redacted. If I find where it went I’ll relink it here.
  • SID Release – Coach Maloney Moves Toth up to 7th in the order:  “He was huge for us today. I moved him up in the order to try to keep what we consider our seven best hitters in a row, and he really came through big for us tonight.”  This appears to be an attempt to limit the LOB in the middle of the order.

Game 2

Box Score R H E
Illinois 0 0 0 3 2 5 0 0 0 10 9 3
Michigan 3 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 8 13 2

W – Zerrusen (2-0)   L – Kolby Wood (0-1)   Sv – Strack (1)

So remember when I said this:

Katzman has done well lately, but that just means he’s due for a less than stellar start as well.

That happened.  While Katzman didn’t have a horrible start, he certainly didn’t have the same stuff he’d had the last two weeks.  He worked into a little trouble in the first with back to back singles to open the frame, but managed to eek his way out.  He wasn’t so lucky in the fourth inning.  Katzman loaded the bases to start the inning (sac bunt in the middle of that).  He then hit a batter to force in a run, followed by a 2 RBI single from Bonadonna.

Kolby Wood would enter in relief of Katzman and get a quick out to stop the bleeding.  In Wood’s first full inning of work, things started off shaky with a fielding error by Anthony Toth.  With two outs and a runner on third (the one to reach on the error), Wood gave up a two run home run (both runs unearned).  The next inning started similarly, but this time with a throwing error by John Lorenz. Wood then gave up back to back hits, scoring a pair of runs (one unearned).  Miller would relieve him but struggled as well giving up a walk, back-to-back doubles, and a single before striking out the next two batters in the inning.  This would put the Illini up 10-6, and their offense went into cruise control to the finish.

The offense was surprisingly good in this game, knocking out the Big10’s top pitcher after just one inning.  Ben Reeser, the Illinois starter managed just 1 inning with 3 hits, 3 runs, and a walk.  Coley Crank was the only starter without a hit, but 5 starters (Cislo, Fellows, LaMarre, Oaks, Toth) had two a piece.

If you were to tell me Michigan was going to score 8 runs on 13 hits while only stranding 8 and striking out 7 times, I’d feel pretty good about that game.  Unfortunately the pitching didn’t hold us in the game.  The Illini hit the big inning in the 6th; it was too much to recover from.

Notable Stars

  • Ryan LaMarre – 2/3  3 RBI, 2 R, 2 SACF, 2B
  • Kevin Cislo – 2/3  2 R, 2 BB, SB, 2B
  • Alan Oaks – 2/5  Solo-HR
  • Anthony Toth – 2/4 BB
  • Kenny Fellows – 2/4 R, 2B, SACB
  • Mike Dufek – 1/5  2B (off the top of the Brick Monster to steal a HR)
  • Attendance – Woo Spring Game crowd: 1942!
  • Coach Maloney – Ejected (see the note below)

Notable Goats

  • Toth & Lorenz – The errors to lead off the 5th and 6th innings lead to 3 unearned runs… more than the difference in the game.

Other Notes

  • Maloney was ejected in the 6th inning arguing on behalf of Kevin Cislo.  There was a close safe call made at second base and the crowd didn’t like it, Cislo didn’t like it, Maloney didn’t like it.  He made his way out to the umpire (I believe it was veteran umpire Bruce Doane) to make his case.  According to Daily staff writer Ryan Kartje,  he went “all “Lou Piniella” on the ump to waves of support from the crowd.  No dirt kicking as of yet.  But regardless, Maloney gets tossed from the game and the crowd loves it.”  I like the move by Maloney to go for the ejection.  Sometimes it can light a fire under the team.  It didn’t work this time, but hey, sometimes you’ve just got to do that as a manager.
  • Daily Live Blog – as linked above in the Maloney note, Kartje live blogged the game.  I really like this from the Daily.  It definitely supplements the box scores really well.

Game 3

Box Score R H E
Illinois 0 3 0 2 0 0 1 4 1 11 19 0
Michigan 2 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 5 10 2

W – Roberts, B (3-0)   L – Alan Oaks (0-1)   Sv – Martin (2).

Keeping along with our recent Sunday streak, our pitching staff struggled most of the game.  This game was back and forth as the scoreboard above shows, but the key came when Alan Oaks out-stayed his welcome.   After already throwing 53 pitches, a career high, he trotted out to an eighth inning he wouldn’t make it out of; he gave up 3 singles and a double to start what would be a four run inning for the Illini.

In defense of Oaks, he pitched very well in the 4 innings leading up to this point, giving up just one unearned run in 4 innings of relief of Travis Smith.  Speaking of Smith, his start was disappointing as well.  He gave up the first 5 runs (4 earned) to the Illini in just over 3 innings of work.  We really need someone to step up and earn this starting spot, whether it be Smith, Wilson, Sinnery, Vangheluwe, Wood, or someone new.

Speaking of Wilson and Sinnery, they closed the game out fairly well, throwing 2 innings while giving up only one unearned run.

Offense was top heavy – top of the lineup that is.  Fellows, LaMarre, and Dufek each had a pair of hits including a homer and double by Dufek – the only extra base hits of the game.  Dufek’s two hits drove in all four Wolverine RBIs in the game, and his grounded into double play also drove.    Toth, Lorenz, and Kalczynski each added a hit a piece from the bottom of the lineup, but lead to no runs scored or driven in.

Notable Stars

  • Mike Dufek – 2/4  4 RBI, R, HR, 2B
  • Ryan LaMarre – 2/3  2 R
  • Kenny Fellows – 2/3  R, BB

Notable Goats

  • Alan Oaks (at bat) – 0/4  3 Ks, 1 LOB
  • DH/PH (Crank, Urban, & Kittle) – 0/4 K
  • Fellows & Lorenz – Errors leading to a pair of unearned runs

Other Notes

  • The Daily – Relief pitching dooms M.  I respectfully disagree.  Timely hitting mixed in with a lack of consistency from the bullpen and the defense behind them.  There were quite a few errors to start innings for bullpen pitchers.
  • The Daily – Live Blog Game 3 is more good stuff.  I love how the only comment is by “S. Toth” appealing Kartje’s notion that the team doesn’t turn too many double plays.    While we may not be the Big10 leaders, we do turn our fair share of them (.82 per game as of 4/5/09)
  • Daily Illini – Haig’s start was disappointing as Fetter was great, but the Illini won the weekend series
  • Illinois Baseball Report – Dittman carries Illini this weekend

Wrap Up

While losing 2 of 3 is never a great thing, I don’t think this was too bad of a weekend for the team.  Illinois is one of the better teams in the conference this season, especially in the pitching department.  There were a few lapses though, especially on defense.  After the great effort in game one, we had two errors in each of the last two games leading to four unearned runs.  We’ve got to cut those down.

After this weekend’s action, Michigan is now 7th (tied with PSU, but Nittany Lions have the tie breaker) in the Big10 at 4-4.  Only the top 6 teams make the BTT, so we’ve got some ground to make up.  That starts this weekend with Michigan State.  We play in East Lansing at their new ball park on Friday and Sunday, but play the middle game of the series at the Fish.  All indications are that Michigan should sweep the Spartans, but they have a pitcher in Nolan Moody who poses quite a challenge.

As for the mid week, we face Toledo on Tuesday and have the rubber match with EMU in Ann Arbor on Wednesday.  Toledo could be a challenge, but I don’t expect much from their mid week starter.  As for EMU, we’ve already seen what they can do.  I can’t see our guys taking the same “oh, its just EMU” mindset as last time.