Baseball: IPFW/Home Opener Preview

Submitted by formerlyanonymous on March 26th, 2010 at 12:05 AM

Michigan (9-9)

vs

IPFW (2-17)

Friday 3:05pm, Ray Fisher Stadium
Alan Oaks (2-3, 2.67 ERA) vs TBA
Stats Audio  
Notes: Michigan is 5-0 all time against the Mastadons, including a
3 game sweep to open the home schedule in 2009

Michigan

vs

IPFW

Saturday 1:05pm, Ray Fisher Stadium
Bobby Brosnahan(1-2, 5.14 ERA) vs TBA
Stats Audio  
Notes:

Michigan

vs

IPFW

Saturday 30min after Game 2, Ray Fisher Stadium
TBA vs TBA
Stats Audio  
Notes: My guess is Miller starts. Game time change!

Ah yes, home opening day. The true signal of spring has come to Ann Arbor is here at last. No longer shall the Michigan team have to travel from Lubbock, TX to St. Petersburg, FL to Chapel Hill, NC to Conway, SC to Port St. Lucie. This weekend, the baseball team returns to it's friendly confines of Ray Fisher Stadium at the Wilpon Complex. They return home, where they haven't lost a home opener since 2000 (30-3 since 1975).

Preview and such after jump…

Weather

weather ipfw

So about that coming of spring to Ann Arbor. That cold front that just came through causing a bit of rain to the south is going to leave it a bit chilly this weekend. A second front that might make it to Ann Arbor on Sunday will also bring a bit of rain with it.

As of now, Friday looks to be nice out but chilly with highs around the mid 40s. Saturday will warm up to the mid 50s with a bit of could cover. Saturday is predicted to be a bit rainy with highs still in the mid-50s.

The Mastodons

IPFW, of the Summit League, enters the series with a record of 2-17 and a pseudo-RPI (Boyd's estimated RPI) just outside of the bottom 10% of division one. As of Wednesday, it was sitting #268 out of 302. In other words, they're a tomato can meant to give Michigan an easy series sweep to open the home schedule.

HOWEVA, the Mastodon's two wins come over top 100 pseudo-RPI teams Murray State and Arkansas State. So while this team isn't that good, they do have the ability to beat a good team on occasion.

I do not expect this weekend to be one of those occasions.

Pitching

IPFW doesn't have a set rotation and I have no idea who to expect on any given night, and they haven't released anything with their starters as of yet. Several of their starters are consistently pulled after 3-4 innings, so it's not like they are huge threats anyway. The two pitchers with the most statistical success have both primarily been relievers. The first is 6'5" righty Matt Ransbottom. The junior has 6 appearances on the year and has a team beast 3.38 ERA over 8 innings. In that time, he's given up 10 hits, walked one, and struck out 5. So yeah, not that intimidating.

The second pitcher with success is Nick Optiz (not Ortiz as I've kept typing it). Optiz is a stick at 6' 2"/ 170lb. He's totaled 22 innings giving up 24 hits, 7 walks, and struck out six. He was the 3rd game starter against Morehead State, going 5.1 innings while giving up 7 hits and 4 walks. He didn't strike anyone out, but he did hit a batter. His 3.38 ERA is second best on the team.

Also of note is 6' 4" righty Matt Antos. The senior has 7 appearances and one start on the season. He's thrown 22.1 innings giving up 14 hits and walking 13(!) while striking out 20. High risk, high reward, some might say. His last outing was a 1.1 inning relief stint against Morehead State in the fourth game of their series. Antos gave up 2 walks and then a 3 run homer to lead off an inning. His opponent batting average is a team best .179, but if we're talking opponent on base percentage gets factored in, those 13 walks add up really quick to runs.

After that, things turn ugly real fast. The Mastodons have 3 players with 5 starts a piece in August, Keterson, and Walker. They've combined to give up 98 hits in just 64 innings, while giving up 68 runs. Only 48 of those runs were earned, so that also tells you a bit about the defense behind them. Their .958 fielding percentage is a little below average for the NCAA (2008's NCAA average was .960).

Hitting

Much like Fordham last week, the IPFW lineup isn't worth getting too worked up over. Their top offensive threat is Brett Clark, who will hit in their 3-hole. He's batting .327 on the season with 5 doubles, a triple, and 2 home runs. Despite his team leading .564 slugging, as a testament to how bad the Mastodons are, he has only 7 RBI.

The RBI leader for the team is cleanup hitter AJ Christensen with 10. Christensen is hitting just .238, but he's getting the hits at the right time. His 5 homers on the year represent nearly half of his 21 hits. That said, his slugging percentage is only .507.

Also worth noting is center fielder Kurt Dudley. His overall numbers are weak at .228 batting, .343 on-base, and .404 slugging, but he did knock 3 home runs last weekend. Strangely though, he didn't play in the mid-week game against Purdue on Tuesday. I'm not sure if their coach was just giving back ups some time on the field, but to hold out a player that's hot like that seems weird.

IPFW as a team does like the strikeout. On the season, they've averaged 7.73 strikeouts per game. Hopefully this bodes well for Oaks and Miller. They should dominate this lineup.

Relevant Reading

I don't normally point you to the game notes, but there isn't going to be a ton on IPFW outside of the Daily. Plus, this gem was buried in there:

TRAVEL WOES ARE GOOD OMANS [sic] – Michigan had a long trip home from its most recent trip to Florida thanks to bad weather in Georgia. Having missed their connection, the Wolverines boarded a bus for a 13-hour ride from Atlanta to Ann Arbor. A similar fate befell the softball team in 2009 during its trip to Georgia. That U-M team advanced all the way to the Women’s College World Series.

Look out Omaha!

Update: The Daily had a 3 pack of articles come out over night.

Oaks Transitions to ace in senior season. Oaks and Maloney discuss his transition. And as an umpire, I'll say that this is a weird "tradition" that would drive me nuts:

“A recent tradition started this year,” Oaks said. “At the first game, the umpire told me to take off my Livestrong wristband and I pitched really well that game. And the next two weeks he told me to do it again. But, the following week he didn’t ask me to remove it, so I said, ‘Hey, can you tell me to take off my wristband?’ ”

In final season, Dufek looks to carry on family tradition of excellence. A good three page post on his team leadership and his family's history in Michigan athletics.

Michigan baseball's infield will see improvement. I don't understand this title at all. The Daily takes a look at our 4 infielders and gives a small summary of where each is in their Michigan careers and a little bit of how they've matured or "improved" over the last year, with the exception of Dennis.

Outlook

Michigan should be able to pound the Mastodons in all three games. I think we see Miller and Burgoon split the Sunday game with each throwing 3-4 innings. That way both get starter-ish innings to work out their game. We probably won't see the bullpen get emptied like we did last weekend. We'll probably save them for Eastern Michigan on Tuesday.

Also worth noting is Garrett Stephens remains the left fielder. I think we'll see a rotation of players out there during the weekend just to get more players at bats, so don't be surprised to see Mills, Krantz, or even Kittle out there.

Comments

Feat of Clay

March 26th, 2010 at 2:35 PM ^

Thanks for this--hoping to make it to one of the games this weekend (wearing lots of fleece, it looks like) so this is helpful.

The Mastodons have a sweet logo. Still hope they get the predicted pounding, of course.

formerlyanonymous

March 26th, 2010 at 5:47 PM ^

10-2 final today as Oaks goes only 5. He had 2ER on 5H, 5K.

Sinnery, Katzman, and Clark all had solid outings in relief.

We hit well with 11 total hits, plus 4 IPFW errors. Lots of offense throughout the lineup. Good first win, must keep focus.

DoubleMs

March 27th, 2010 at 11:05 AM ^

Overheard some old dude in the stands next to me on Friday on the phone, said he had spoken to coach, and that LaMarre is looking at 2 weeks minimum before he can play. Not the best of news.