While North Carolina isn't quite the Goliath they have been in the past, Michigan did have to go into Chapel Hill and face the #12 team in the nation with what's been a suspect offense at best. It didn't turn out all that well. Michigan was swept on the weekend, losing two extremely close games on Friday and Saturday, and was blown out on Sunday to fall to 4-7 on the season.
Starting pitching on Saturday and Sunday just wasn't good enough to compete with the Tarheels, but there was some life shown by the offense.
Full Recaps and Series Thoughts after the jump
(photo to right from minervacat's photo stream)
W-Harvey … L-Oaks (2-1)
Alan Oaks didn't deserve this loss, and the bullpen and the offense owe him better than that. Oaks threw 7 innings, giving up two runs on 3 hits, 6 walks, and 3 strikeouts. Oaks retired ten of his first eleven batters he faced before allowing a walk and a homerun back to back in the fourth. Oaks walked two in the fifth, plus gave another base on balls intentionally before getting out of the inning without giving up a run. He finished his night retiring 7 straight batters, with Michigan trailing just 2-0.
Then the bullpen came in, first with Travis Smith. Smith walked both batters he would face to open the 8th, and then would get the quick hook for Eric Katzman. He too would be on a short leash, as he walked one batter before being pulled. Kolby Wood entered with the infield pulled in for the play at the plate. The gamble on infield positioning failed, however, as the first batter Wood faced chopped a ball that bounced just over the head of Toth, plating two runs. No fault to Wood in this one, he did his job to get the ground ball, it was just unfortunate for Michigan who was playing to keep the game at two. Wood completed the inning with three more ground balls, including a great defensive play by Dufek to get a player at home.
The offense for Michigan actually wasn't that bad this game, they just waited too late to string together an inning. Several innings saw Michigan strand a runner on base, but the best scoring chance Michigan had came in the 4th. With one out and two runners on base, Berset flew out to right field. The UNC right fielder had a perfect throw to beat Dufek to the plate, and Michigan ended up with no runs.
Michigan did put the pressure on in the top of the ninth. Toth and Dufek led off with back-to-back singles, and after a pair of strikeouts by Crank and Lorenz, Berset singled in the first run. Urban would follow that with another single for a run. With the rookie Mills coming up, Garrett Stephens came in to pinch hit, but for naught. He would fly out to end the game.
- Alan Oaks… obviously. That was a tremendous start.
- Mike Dufek – 2/4 R, K, great defensive play to get a runner at home
- Smith and Katzman – Combined 0 innings with 3 walks.
- 13 Ks – Dennis and Mills both went 0/3 with hat tricks
W-Johnson … L-Miller (0-2) … Save-Holt
While this isn't quite a slugfest like I predicted in my weekend preview, 12 hits for Michigan probably should count as one. Matt Miller could just not settle down in this game, lasting just 3 innings (he started the 4th but didn't get an out) while giving up 10 hits, 6 runs (only 4 earned), 2 walks, and striking out four. It was a bad day, and run-scoring errors from Biondi and Anthony Toth. Bad starts happen, but the good news is the Michigan managed to stay in the game.
Matt Gerbe was able to keep UNC from tacking on too many runs in the 4th, giving up a two walks and the ground ball that Toth booted. Both runs scoring on that play were charged to Miller, the first unearned. Gerbe did pitch better in the 5th, retiring the side in order, and managed to navigate out of trouble in the 6th after hitting the leadoff batter. His official line looks a bit better than real life at 3IP, 1H, 0R with 2BB and a K, but he still had a solid outing to give Michigan time to wake themselves up on offense.
After Gerbe, Jeff DeCarlo and Kevin Vangheluwe both worked out of some trouble with minimal damage. DeCarlo threw a scoreless inning despite walking two and hitting a batter, which I consider to be a great inning for him. Normally it's a walk, a hit batsman, and at least 2 runs. Vangheluwe gave up a leadoff single, but after a stolen base and sacrifice bunt, Kevin balked in the 7th and game deciding run for UNC.
Michigan's offense was in full swing in this game, lead by Patrick Biondi's 4-for-4 day. Michigan had a hit in each inning, but would not get on the board until the 4th. Dufek and Berset both walked, and Urban knocked a single up the middle for the first run.
The 7th inning was when the Michigan offense really started to click. Dennis lead off the 7th with a double and scored when Patrick Biondi knocked a triple. Toth followed that up with a sac-fly. That cut the UNC lead to only 6-3.
In the 8th, Lorenz walked and Urban was hit by a pitch. Biondi would single through the left side of the infield to score Lorenz. The game was then 6-4.
In the 9th, down 7-4, Crank singled and Berset homered to deep left to pull the game to just a one run margin with only one out left in the inning. Lorenz would walk and be pinch run for with Tyler Mills. Urban singled and the tying run was in scoring position, winning run on first. Michigan had two chances to tie the game, but they'd come up short as Derek Dennis and pinch hitter Garrett Stephens would both strikeout swinging.
The radio announcer really put emphasis on the balk being the deciding issue in this game. I don't think so. The run would have scored on the next ground ball. Still, we had the UNC fans on the edge of their seats, especially when the umpire decided not to ring up Urban on a pitch 6 inches outside, that the umpire had been calling all day.
- Patrick Biondi – 4/4 3B, 2 RBI, R, BB
- Chris Berset - 1/4 HR, 2 RBI, R, BB
- Crank, Dennis, Urban – 2 hits a piece
- Matt Miller – Tough start. Never could settle.
- Biondi and Toth – Errors leading to runs will always land you here.
W – Bates … L-Burgoon (2-1)
So while my predictions came close to true in game one and two, game three went nothing like the win I had expected. Burgoon was in no way his normal self. He gave up two runs in the first on two hits and a walk, while also uncorking a wild pitch. One of those two hits was a triple down the right field line. It definitely didn't set a good tone for the game.
Tyler did manage to settle down over the next two innings, allowing just one runner on base via a hit batsman. In the fourth, Burgoon gave back-to-back singles and a RBI double. A sac-fly would score another run. The sixth inning was the big inning for UNC. Burgoon gave off a leadoff homer and a double before leaving the game.
Sinnery would enter, but he wasn't very successful either. He gave up a double, a single, a walk, another double, and another single, to give UNC five runs on the inning. Luckily Chris Berset nailed a runner trying to steal second to end the inning. Sinnery wouldn't make it through his next inning. Brosnahan would eventually retire the last batter of the inning.
Wood threw the last inning for Michigan as the last of the subs made it in for mop up duty. He gave up a single and struck out two in the scoreless frame.
On offense, Michigan had a couple hitters have a good day, but outside of the first inning, it was just sporadically peppered throughout the game. The one run came on the third batter of the game. Biondi walked, and Toth and Berset each singled, with Biondi scoring on the latter's.
- Chris Berset – 2/2 RBI, 2 HBP
- Toth and Lorenz – 2 hits a piece. Berset with the RBI
- Coley Crank – 0/4 with 3 LOB (batting fourth)
- Team – 1/11 with RISP
While a sweep is never desired, I don't think losing all three will kill us in the national picture, it certainly doesn't help our cause. North Carolina isn't quite up to their normal level of dominance, and I think with LaMarre, we definitely had at least one win from the series. We didn't have him though, so it's time to just move ahead.
There was a lot of shifting in the lineup this weekend. A quick look:
Berset has been doing quite well this season, and he's earned his move up the lineup. Lorenz has also done really well, and he may overtake Dufek if things don't improve for Mike soon. We'll see how that goes. I don't think things are set just yet, and I'm planning on looking in more detail at some of the less refined stats in a later segment.
It's still any one's game in left field. Mills, Kittle, Krantz, Stephens, and Crank have each had a crack at it, but none of the new guys has produced enough at the plate. I don't have enough on Kittle yet, but any of the other three are alright replacements. No one has been tested just yet on defense, and only Stephens poses any sort of major power threat.
I think this was a good series to show that Michigan isn't quite as inept as it was last season. Michigan can hang with some of the big boys when they're on, and that bode wells for the Big Ten season. If there was one disappointment with the weekend, it was the lack of Sinnery and his short struggle. I think the starting pitching woes should be better the next time around, and we've got a good week to prepare for a bit easier schedule next weekend.
Around the Big Ten
Not a lot to good to say about the Big Ten this week. Leader Ohio State brought in a bunch of tomato cans to play in a tournament they hosted in Florida. They still managed to lose to Saint Louis.
Minnesota obliterated any mention of them in the national picture on Friday. After losing to Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the mid-week, the Gophers lost to Loyola Marymount 4-3. Saturday, they were blown out by Oklahoma State, a middle of the road Big12 team by a score of 16-9. All of these were at their home park, the Metrodome. They did manage a win against Northwestern today in a non-conference game, but that's nothing impressive. Huge hit to them on the season.
Speaking of Northwestern though, they did manage to beat Loyola Marymount, and kept it respectable in the weekend opening loss to Okahoma State at just 7-5.
Indiana had a great weekend, taking two games, one from Illinois State and another from a pretty good Kent State team. They're currently in extra innings with Vanderbilt as I type this. That's pretty good regardless of how the game ends. If they take it, it's a huge win.
Iowa had an impressive win against #25 Kansas. It's the Big Ten's lone win over a ranked opponent, and it didn't even come in a Jared Hippen start. The Hawkeyes went 1-3 in Lawrence against the Jay Hawks. That's actually great for a program as low as Iowa's. I still maintain that they are a dark horse to finish in the top 3 of the conference this season.
Michigan State split their weekend, beating Southeast Missouri twice and losing twice to Mississippi State in Starkville. Nothing to write home about with any of those results.
Penn State picked up a solid win over Dallas Baptist, and another decent win over McNeese State in Beaumont, Texas. They did lose their final two games against the host Lamar Cardinals. Those aren't horrible losses for the Nittany Lions. Lamar does hold a win over Rice this season.
Outside of Minnesota, the worst showing in the conference was Purdue who lost two of three at Southern Illinois. They might have won Friday 13-2, but they lost 13-12 each of the next two games.
But even that was rivaled by the Illini, who were swept in their tournament at East Carolina. Illinois lost to East Carolina 7-5, Western Carolina 4-2, and West Virginia 11-8. They blew a 5 run lead in that last game.