Baseball BTT: Tournament and Iowa Preview

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on May 26th, 2010 at 7:55 PM

 catching Iowa stealing
Catching Iowa Stealing. Photo by 
MGoBlue.com

Michigan
(34-20, 14-10)

vs

Iowa
(28-26, 13-11)

Thursday 3:35pm ET
Bill Davis Stadium
Columbus, OH

TBA vs TBA
Stats Audio   TV:BTN  
Notes: Michigan is 101-45 all time.
Iowa is 1-0 in the tourney (not
reflected above)

Season Series

Iowa Recap

2-5

 

3-5

7-5

Michigan will open up their portion of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament Thursday against Iowa. The winner advances to the semi-finals of the championship round, the loser falls into a pit of despair also known as the loser's bracket.

Iowa owns a 2-1 record against the Wolverines, but they've already thrown their ace Jarred Hippen in order to get to this game. Michigan comes in fully rested and with all its pitchers at Rich Maloney's disposal.

A brief review of the regular season meeting and some thoughts on the tournament after the jump.

Reviewing the Recap

Michigan's series against Iowa was extremely disappointing. After the opener was delayed by rain, the double header on Saturday started bad and went to worse in a hurry. From the recap's series thoughts:

Obviously this was a huge let down to drop the series. Unfortunately, the worst case scenario for Friday happened. I kind of had a feeling it might, but I assumed it was just my normal pessimism. It wasn't. I'm not sure if there's specific blame any one can place. I'd call it a team effort. The leadership both of players on the field and coaches couldn't pick it back up in game two, and that's just something that has to be treated differently next time we face a double header.

Alan Oaks was a huge culprit of the game one close loss to Iowa. In 5 innings, he gave up 5 hits and 5 runs while walking three and striking out three. This came just one week after a premature announcement on my part that Alan might be back to his early season form. With Oaks likely to get the start against the Hawkeyes, how he starts is definitely the key to the game. If he walks a couple of batters in the first 2 innings, prepare yourselves for rough seas ahead. If the outside corner is a bit loose with the home plate umpire, expect good things.

In the other two games, Michigan let Iowa run away with the momentum in the second game of the double header. Bobby Brosnahan had a start much like Oaks and Michigan was unable to get the offense going. Nick Brown of the Hawkeyes put forward a good start, spreading 5 hits and 2 runs over 6.2 innings, walking two and striking out 5. He will probably be who Michigan sees on Thursday. His last start was against Purdue, lasting 6.2 innings, giving up 7 hits but only 1 run on 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. Brown does lean toward being a ground ball pitcher, but it's around a 2:1 ration ground balls to fly outs.

Game three was a bit more offense geared, with Brandon Sinnery putting forward a solid 4 innings in the start, and Burgoon spreading 3 runs over 5 innings with 5 Ks. Phil Schreiber threw for Iowa, giving up 6 runs (2 earned) over 5 innings with 8 hits, 2 walks, and four strikeouts.

Michigan regulars against Iowa:

Player AB R H RBI BB K Other

Biondi

11

2

0

1

2

3

SACB

Toth

14

0

3

1

0

2

2B, CS

LaMarre

11

3

8

2

0

0

2B, 3B, HR, SB, SACF

Berset

10

1

3

1

2

1

2 2B, 2 GDP

Crank

11

2

5

4

2

3

3B, HR, CS

Dufek

13

1

1

1

0

7

HR,

Urban

10

1

2

1

0

4

 

Lorenz

9

0

3

1

2

2

2 2B, CS

Dennis

 

 

 

 

 

 

DNP

Had Michigan, you know, won this series, LaMarre might have been Big Ten player of the Week again. This was also the start to Biondi's average dropping from .386 to .327. Dennis missed the entire series with an undisclosed shoulder injury.

Iowa in the Tourney

Iowa played one game so far, beating Purdue 7-4. That marks Iowa's 4th win in a row against the Boilermakers in exactly one week's time. In their opener, Iowa started their ace Jarred Hippen, who went 7.1 innings, giving up 10 hits and 4 runs while striking out 5 and walking none. This allowed Iowa to conserve their bullpen, throwing Zach Robinson just one inning and using closer Kevin Lee only 2/3 of an inning to get the save.

The Hawkeye bats have been extremely hot over the last week and a half, and that hot streak carried over into the tournament. Leadoff man and centerfielder Kurtis Muller was held hitless but he still scored two runs. Zach McCool and Mike McQuillan both went 1/4, with McCool collecting 2 RBI and McQuillan one. Ryan Durant went 2/4 to continue his recent streak as well.

It's also worth noting that in the defeat of Purdue, the Boilermaker coach Doug Schreiber made one of the strangest decisions I've seen any coach make in quite some time. Schreiber decided to save his ace and Big Ten strikeout leader Matt Bischoff for the second round. That blew up in his face as his second starter Matt Morgan started to fall apart in the 5th inning.

Morgan had a great start against Minnesota, leaving in the 8th win the win intact. His 2 runs on 6 hits, one walk, and 7 Ks should have been enough to win had it not been for the Purdue bullpen struggles. So saving Morgan, not Bischoff, for the second round would have made plenty of sense.

So instead of throwing his best to avoid the loser's bracket, the Boilermakers will have to win 6 games in the next 4 days to make the NCAA tournament.

Because of this ridiculous decision, I consider Iowa lucky to be playing us.

Key Matchups

Assuming Alan Oaks to be the starter, the key match up becomes Oaks against Iowa's 1-4 hitters. If Alan can get through the lineup the first two times unscathed, I think Michigan should be sitting pretty. If Oaks throws 6+ innings, I think Michigan wins this game.

Iowa's bullpen may not have been used much yesterday, but they did use their only true relief threats yesterday. It'll be interesting to see if they perform on a high level on back to back days. Michigan's hitters need to take advantage of Iowa's young starter, whoever that may be, and try to get to the bullpen early. Cue captain obvious comment.

A last key, the playing surface at Bill Davis. There have been some tricky hops in the first two games, and that won't be any better tomorrow. Here's hoping Derek Dennis plays well.

Prediction

I think Michigan wins this game with a score around the 8-5 range. I'm leaning to a bit bigger lead, but that hasn't really been Michigan's game this season.

For those of you who catch the game on the Big Ten Network, be sure to tune into the late game as well. Indiana will play Minnesota, and Michigan is almost assuredly going to play one of those two somewhere along the line. Michigan absolutely lucked out in getting a bye, and they got even luckier that the second round of the tournament has ended up in this match up.

I would have hated to see Michigan face Bischoff and Purdue, and getting Iowa instead of Northwestern seems like a blessing. Not to mention Minnesota has to face the only team in the tournament that I think is capable of gorilla balling Minnesota into the losers' bracket, leaving a potential Michigan versus Indiana match up in the semi-finals and the Hoosiers out of pitching.

Can the luck continue? Can Michigan make their own luck? Only time will tell.

Game is at 3:35p ET on the Big Ten Network. I'll be hopefully commenting live from Buffalo Wild Wings as it's the only place around that I can get wifi, beer, and the BTN for quite a long drive.

Go Blue. Beat Iowa.

Comments

TMill

May 26th, 2010 at 10:00 PM ^

It's not unheard of. Jim morris down at Miami does this all the time in tournaments. today ihe rested Chris Hernandez (his ace) against Florida State in game one of hte ACC Tournament sand started a weekday starter. it worked as they won 9-3.

Of course, it helps that Miami's bench guys would probably be all-Big Ten caliber players on most any team in the league. When they back up a guy it is a lot different than what a Big Ten pitcher has backing him up. I still think it was dumb to rest Bischoff, but would have been great had the wheels not come off in the 5th.

JustGoBlue

May 26th, 2010 at 10:40 PM ^

Hindsight is 20/20 of course, but I remember seeing Purdue up 4-0 early in the game and I remember seeing not-Bischoff on the mound and I remember being terrified hoping really hard that Iowa (you're welcome, Hawkeyes) either came back to win or that Northwestern beat Indiana so we didn't have to face a Bischoff-led Purdue team.  Since it didn't work, of course, Purdue's coach looks like a fool, but if they had won and especially if they had then beaten us/Minnesota he would look incredbly intelligent.  I find it hard to fault him too too much.  Bischoff obviously didn't beat Hippen their last match-up and Bischoff was the only pitcher to beat us in our match-up.  Our game wasn't even close until we hung 3 on their closer in the 9th to lose 5-8.  He didn't think his second guy could beat either ours or Minnesota's aces and this gives him a chance to maybe win the second game.  Obviously the safe (and probably sane) thing to do is just start in the winners bracket and hope you win a couple from there, baseball is a funny game, a good start in the tournament and good things could happen, but he was hoping for a better start, making it easier for good things to happen.  It didn't work, obviously, but I see his logic in it and I'm not going to call him a moron for trying to win a tournament he didn't think he could win any other way.

For what it's worth, I was one of those people really, really, REALLY hoping RR would go for 2 in the end against State last year.  I thought/think it was our best chance of winning that game.  But I also understand that if he goes for it and doesn't make it, he looks like an idiot and bad things happen.  Nobody would blame him for playing it safe.   I can't pile on Purdue's coach for going for 2.

formerlyanonymous

May 26th, 2010 at 11:21 PM ^

Ergo, it doesn't matter if Miami loses the first game. They have enough wins out of their 4 games to make the championship. Purdue on the other hand, has to win 6 games in 4 days. Huge difference there. In the NCAA tournament he can get away with this on occasion, but most of the time that's when his team is a #1 seed and his #4 seed is some automatic qualifier from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, or some one similar to act as a tomato can.

And my point is Bischoff would be unlikely to have the wheels fall off. He's talented enough to keep that from happening. My comment on one of the other threads was whether or not Morgan would fall apart late. He started to lose it and the defense then let him down. I think well enough of Bischoff as a player that I think he would have survived the inning. Morgan, not so much.

I really think that Schreiber gift wrapped this one for Iowa to take. I really wish he would have stuck around for the post game interview to explain the thought process. Webb was there to ask questions and apparently Schreiber had some confusion on his end. Schreiber thought losing teams did the media thing first, and when he got there, he was told he would be going after Indiana. According to Webb, he was annoyed by this and just up and left. I found that to be pretty weak, even if I think the practice of letting the winning team go first seems kind of strange to me.

myrtlebeachmai…

May 27th, 2010 at 2:42 AM ^

Coach Tanner did the same thing down here... saved his ace for second round match-up, but got beat today by LSU (who threw their ace). 

I don't agree with this thinking at all.  Have to throw your best.  If you lose: 1) you look like a  moron,  2) now your best couple pitchers are "wasted" in the losers bracket, and if you're lucky enough to get through you'll need secondary guys again to win the finals, and  3) you may have had enough rest for your ace (if you start him game 1) that he might be able to come back on short rest.

Too much risk/little reward.

formerlyanonymous

May 27th, 2010 at 8:42 AM ^

DetNew's Goricki continues his butchering of the English language with a 19 sentence piece that's separated into 13 paragraphs and 2 bulleted items, making me want to pull hair out of my head. Despite the choppiest sports article I have read in years, he does get the point across that Maloney is looking to use Oaks, Brosnahan, and Miller as his starting rotation. This isn't anything unexpected, but it does relieve some worry that we'd see Katzman throw in game 2.

There's also a confusing mention of using Burgoon, but it doesn't specify if that's as a starter or reliever. I'm not sure what to make of it as the theme has been Burgoon as bullpen only for the second half of the season because that's where he's most comfortable. Perhaps his struggles on back to back days is causing Maloney and the coaching staff to re-evaluate? Maybe Goricki is just a bad writer? My thought is the latter is too obvious.

formerlyanonymous

May 27th, 2010 at 8:46 AM ^

Ann Arbor.com is also reporting the rotation being set:

[Matt Miller] is slated to start Michigan's third game of the Big Ten tournament in a rotation that includes Alan Oaks and Bobby Brosnahan. Like Miller, Michigan's staff has experienced its bouts with inconsistency, but that has also demonstrated the ability to come through in crunch time.

Emphasis his. I'll give Arnold the block quote as 1) I like his columns better and 2) I like his writing style, which includes things that act more like paragraphs, better. Plus, he has no confusing mention of Burgoon.

Quag77

May 27th, 2010 at 9:54 AM ^

I feel pretty confident matching up with anyone right now (now that Bischoff won't be throwing against us)...but that Indiana team just scares me.   FA...you nailed it about how they will be out of pitching...however, I remember that last time they were out of pitching as well.    One at a time I suppose.  Go Blue!

formerlyanonymous

May 27th, 2010 at 1:14 PM ^

Yeah, I agree. Michigan would likely be favored due to the bye against anyone who played yesterday. Indiana scares me as well. Regardless of winners or losers bracket, we'd likely face them with Brosnahan on the mound (assuming if we go to the loser's bracket, Indiana loses to Minnesota). That could be good with lefty vs lefty heavy lineup or bad with young, emotional guy against that powerful of a lineup. Not sure what to expect from that.

Indiana does have a bit more pitching than they did to start the season. I want to say Monar is back, as well as Matt Carr. That should help float IU along a bit farther than normal. They also haven't thrown Squires yet thanks to Leininger's complete game. They'll still be dangerous when we play them, if it happens.

formerlyanonymous

May 27th, 2010 at 1:37 PM ^

Also, I got a partial response on the tickets. They aren't clearing out between games, so if you buy the $10 ticket, you get the entire day's games. That works out a bit more competitively with the other conference tournaments as you could see 2-3 games for $10 rather than just one.

Alton

May 27th, 2010 at 2:31 PM ^

That is good to know; I might actually consider a Saturday trip now if I can see both games for $10.  My only concern now is for those people who bought the $100 all-session pass, only to learn that they could have purchased 1 ticket each day (for $40 or $50 total) to see the whole tournament.

formerlyanonymous

May 27th, 2010 at 2:36 PM ^

All 6 of them. The only people I see making that sort of effort are people who will be coming and going, like scouts. I didn't get specifics, so I'm not sure if your early game ticket would get you back into the 2nd game or 3rd game if you left.

I've seen some of the twitpics from Big Ten Val and Chris Webb. They're ain't what I would call solid attendance at these games, granted they've all been during the week day.

formerlyanonymous

May 27th, 2010 at 2:40 PM ^

They throw Bischoff for a complete game 11-1 victory. *cough* should have thrown him yesterday *cough*

Northwestern is eliminated with the loss. Purdue will face the worst seeded team to lose tonight. The only way that Michigan is that teams is if Michigan loses and Minnesota loses. Possible, but probably not the most likely scenario.

Alton

May 27th, 2010 at 3:26 PM ^

http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/big10/sports/m-basebl/auto_pdf/base…

Note the fine print in the bottom right:  "EXCEPTION:  if one of the Games 4 or 5 losers has already had a bye, that team will play in Game 6, regardless of seed."

So if Indiana loses and Michigan loses, Michigan plays in the early game because of the exception quoted above.  And if Minnesota loses and Michigan loses, Michigan plays in the early game because they are the lower seed.  If Michigan wins, Iowa will get the bye and the Minnesota-Indiana loser will play Purdue at noon on Friday.

formerlyanonymous

May 27th, 2010 at 6:47 PM ^

Michigan won 18-4. Oaks was just as laughable as he was good. While he made a very smart play to throw home one the pitch where his back foot slipped completely off the rubber to avoid a balk, that one he launched almost into the stands and over the screen was hilarious.

The offense bailed Michigan out, allowing Maloney to throw Kyle Clark for 2 innings instead of any of our regular guys we would throw in a close game. That was a huge advantage.

Michigan had 21 hits, led by LaMarre's 4/6 day. I'll have some sort of recap and preview out tomorrow. Michigan's opponent will be decided by the night cap featuring Minnesota and Indiana.