Michigan moved to 18-11 and 4-2 in Big Ten play this weekend with a series win over Purdue at Ray Fisher Stadium, 2 games to 1. Ryan LaMarre was the big story of the weekend exploding for a 9/13 batting average in the 3-hole for your Wolverines.
UPDATE: Ryan even earned POTW honors in the Big Ten:
LaMarre earns his second career Player of the Week honor and his first this season after leading Michigan to a series win against Purdue over the weekend. The outfielder hit .692 and slugged 1.077 on the strength of three doubles and a triple vs. the Boilermakers. He also recorded three hits in every conference game, extending his hitting streak to 10 games dating back to last season. Against Central Michigan on Wednesday, LaMarre made his first start since suffering an injury at Texas Tech on Feb. 20. He went 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI in a 13-7 win. In eight appearances this season, LaMarre has four multi-hit games and is hitting .519 with a .704 slugging percentage.
Full recaps and series thoughts after the jump:
In the game preview, I stressed the importance of Michigan getting the Purdue starters out of the game early. In this game, they couldn't. Matt Bischoff was outstanding for Purdue, going 8 innings, allowing just 8 hits for 2 earned runs with a walk and 9 strikeouts. He would need only 114 pitches to go the full 8 innings.
Meanwhile, Michigan's ace Alan Oaks continued his recent slide, needing 116 pitches just to get through 6 innings. Alan gave up 8 hits and 6 earned runs on a 4 walks and a tying a season low 3 strikeouts. His first inning was somewhat forgivable. Alan gave up a lead off double, and the runner moved to third on a deep fly ball to right center. The runner would score on a wild pitch by Oaks, but the next batter ended up parking a solo home run that would have scored the runner anyway. That was a pretty rough start, but Oaks has had similarly rough innings and worked out of it before.
This time, however, Oaks would have another rough inning to follow that. In the second, Oaks would walk 3 batters and have another reach base on a swinging strike three at a wild pitch. Those type of free base runners can't happen. Add in an RBI double and Purdue had the early 4-0 lead. If anything, I've got to give Oaks credit for limiting the Boilermakers to just 2 runs in the inning as the stranded the bases loaded.
Michigan's offense had been fairly quiet up to this point, registering two hits in the second, but scoring no runs. That changed in the third as Biondi sparked the inning with an infield single. He then would reach second on a balk by Bischoff and steal third. A Toth RBI-groundout would score the run and Michigan was on the board.
Purdue managed another run in the 5th as Oaks hit the lead off batter. A single and sacrifice bunt later would lead to a sacrifice fly. Oaks again managed to escape the inning, stranding 2 more base runners.
Patrick Biondi, Base Pirate
Michigan would get that run right back though, as Biondi yet again set the table, this time via the bunt single. He would induce yet another balk by Bischoff, and then score on a Chris Berset single. This would bring the game to 5-2 Boilermakers to end the 5th.
The 7th would see Alan Oaks's exit from the game. Giving up a lead off single, Maloney made the call to Travis Smith in the bullpen. Curious choice as Smith has done alright in his last few appearances, but he's been less than stellar this season. Smith would give up a 2-run homer on a full count to give Purdue a 5 run lead, but he battled back nicely to finish the inning, striking out two of the last three batters.
Smith's 8th inning would be a bit worse. Travis walked 3 batters and gave up an RBI single to shallow center field. If anything, he was lucky to escape with just only giving up one run.
In the bottom of the ninth, Purdue finally went to the bullpen; unfortunately, it was too late for Michigan. Michigan managed to get 3 runs back in the frame, but that would draw to a final score of 8-5 Purdue.
- Patrick Biondi – 3/5, 2 RBI, 3 R, 2B, SB, induced 2 balks, also reached on an error
- Ryan LaMarre – 3/4
- John Lorenz – 4 left on base to end innings, 0/2 K
- Team K's – 10 combined
- Pitchers' Walks – 9 combined
W - Brosnahan (4-2)… Save - Burgoon (4)
This time Michigan managed to get to the Purdue starter quite early, posting the all powerful big inning in the 2nd. Purdue's starter Blake Mascarello lasted just 1.1 innings giving up 4 runs on 3 hits, 2 walks and a strikeout. Michigan's first inning would see Toth walk, LaMarre single to right, Berset walk, and Crank to register the RBI on a groundout.
The second was Michigan's big inning, as Urban and Lorenz lead off with back-to-back doubles. Dennis would ground out to move up Lorenz to third, and Mascarello would end his day on the next batter when he hit Biondi with a pitch. Toth would greet the bullpen with an RBI single through the left side, scoring Lorenz and moving Biondi all the way to third. LaMarre would get his second RBI on another single to follow that up. After Berset walked to load the bases, Crank would fly out deep enough to right field to earn the sacrifice fly. That would put Michigan up 5-0, which was enough for Bobby Brosnahan and Tyler Burgoon.
Brosnahan with the long stride
Brosnahan had a considerably less shaky game in this one, going 6.2 innings, giving up 7 hits and only walking 2. He needed to face only 10 batters to get through the first 3 innings, but he did run into some trouble in the fourth. After a quick K featuring a filthy curve ball, Brosnahan gave up 4 singles and an RBI-groundout to score two Boilermaker runs. He did manage to escape and strand two runners on base.
Michigan got one of those runs back in the bottom of the 4th. LaMarre lead off the inning with a double down the right field line and was followed by a Chris Berset RBI single up the middle. From their the offense was pretty much in coast, not really getting anything going.
Brosnahan reached the end of his rope in the 7th. He started off the inning with a walk and a pair of singles before balking over a runner. A groundout produced the second Purdue run of the inning, and Brosnahn would record the second out of the inning via the strikeout.
Then came the Tyler Burgoon show. Paul was at the game and his analysis: "Burgoon was a beast today." Reports from some one of our fans in the stands was that he was 92-94 mph on the fastball with a peak at 96. Burgoon would strike out 3 over his 2.1 innings of work, allowing just one hit. Even that hit was erased by a double play. Easy groundouts and strikeouts. Just the way Burgoon saves should go.
- Burgoon – 2.1 IP, 3K, 1 H, 0 R, Save, 26 pitches/17 strikes
- Ryan LaMarre – 3/5, RBI, R, 2B, SB
- Patrick Biondi – stolen base gives him the Michigan record for steals by a freshman (19)
Stretching for one:
- Mike Dufek – 0/3, K, 4 LOB. Just an off game for him.
W - Sinnery (3-0)… Save – Wood (1)
Michigan again put the pressure on early, and benefited from another big inning to lead to a pretty easy win over the Boilermakers to clinch the series. Brandon Sinnery got the start and was just as good as any other Michigan starter has been all season. With Burgoon being used up the night before, Sinnery got his first start of the season, going 6 innings, giving up only 2 runs (one earned), 5 hits, and 3 walks while striking out three. Great start, and hopefully this leads to a consistent third starter on Sunday.
They wouldn't score here, because Berset is a brick wall:
Despite Sinnery being deserving of the big lead, most people are going to remember this game for the offensive explosion, particularly of star Ryan LaMarre. LaMarre got the offense going in the 1st with a double down down the left field line. Berset would knock him in with a solid single to center and Michigan was on the board.
In the fourth, LaMarre again was the catalyst. He lead off the inning with a triple off the wall in left center, missing a homer by just inches. Berset would then knock one through the right side into right field for an easy RBI, tying the score at 2-2. Following an errant pick off throw, Berset would move to second, and Crank was carefully pitched around. Dufek made them pay with a double to left, scoring Berset. Urban followed that up with another single to score another.
After Lorenz popped out for the first out, Derek Dennis perfectly executed a hit and run with Urban stealing, placing the ball right where the second baseman was positioned before Urban broke toward second. Dufek scored easily and Urban moved to third base. Following a pitching change, Biondi would walk on four pitches and Toth would roll into a fielder's choice as Urban was thrown out at the plate. This brought up Ryan LaMarre again, who would send another ball to the wall, this time to right field, about half way up the fence. This would score all three runners, brining the score to 8-2.
The game moved quickly from here as Sinnery was in a groove, wasting little time between pitches and Michigan's offense cooled a bit. When Kolby Wood entered to start the 7th, he began the game a bit shaky, giving up 3 hits and one run in the 7th. He would also give up three hits and a run in the 8th, but he did strand 2 runners in each inning as well to avoid more trouble.
In the meantime, Toth lead off the 7th with a single, and Crank knocked him in with a double down the left field line to get us to 9-5, the final score. Kolby Wood would finish off the Boilermakers in the 9th and secure the win.
- Ryan LaMarre – 3/4, 3 RBI, 2 R, 2 2B, 3B, SB
- Brandon Sinnery – 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, W (first start of season)
- Chris Berset – 2/4, 2 RBI, R
- Derek Dennis – 2 errors, including what should have been last out of the game
- Anthony Toth – 1 error (he and Dennis had an error on the same ground ball in on inning with Toth booting it toward Dennis, who promptly threw it away)
All in all, going two for three is going to be good enough. Michigan is 18-11 (4-2 Big Ten) and tied for first place with Michigan State and Ohio State. So at least we're keeping pace with the other conference leaders.
Matt Bischoff may get credit for Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for the third straight time following yet another great 8 inning start. There's no shame in losing to him, although, I will say, Michigan should be able to put up more of a fight than that. Alan Oaks was a real let down to start the series, and the team really needs him to step it up moving forward.
I am encouraged by how well the team is hitting. Dufek and Crank are starting to cool off, but it's alright as Ryan LaMarre played out of his mind this weekend. I don't care how big of a star you may be, to go 9/13 with 14 total bases (not including 2 steals) in a conference series is impressive. Then throw in that even with Biondi being held hitless in back-to-back games for the first time this season, but we still managed to win both, you've got to feel good.
I'm encouraged by Sinnery's start. I really thought he was going to be the third starter to start the season, but he's made the most of his time in the bullpen. I don't think he's that much more consistent than Matt Miller, but Sinnery has a better downward tail to his fastball that creates more ground balls. I can't say that about Miller who has left quite a few pitches high and flat for batters to hit hard.
Attendance was great this weekend as the Fish averaged 1,385 fans per game, including Friday's 1,642 season high. That's awesome.
I've got a recap of Michigan baseball's latest two recruits coming soon.
Michigan has a pair of midweek games this week including a very tough Toledo team on Tuesday that we may be an underdog against. They're currently #83 in RPI, Michigan is #88. That game will be streamed via BTN.com (PPV). Wednesday is against Bowling Green State, who is quite the opposite, possibly the worst team in the MAC. I'll have some Q&A with the BGSU blogger before that game.
The weekend sees the Michigan headed to Illinois who just lost a series to Iowa. Not sure what to make of that yet, but I'll be working on some Q&A with the Illinois blogger this week as well. All of the games will be streamed on BTN.com (PPV).