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Baseball drops 1-0 pitchers’ duel to Buckeyes

By Ben Fidelman, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 9, 2014

The Michigan baseball team’s three-game series against Ohio State starting Friday was destined to be a dogfight, and fans didn’t have to wait long to find out just that.

Junior left-hander Trent Szkutnik stepped up for the Wolverines, allowing only one run over 8.2 innings — but he gave up one too many, losing a pitchers’ duel to Tanner Tully, 1-0.

His start had an early twist when storm clouds rolled in just after the junior completed a 1-2-3 first inning, bringing with them a 25-minute rain delay.

“I kind of lost my edge coming out there for the second inning because of the rain delay,” Szkutnik said. “I started leaving pitches up in two-ball counts, which has been a problem all year.”

Ohio State jumped on that lapse, popping back-to-back singles to start the inning, followed by a sacrifice bunt to put two runners in scoring position for catcher Connor Sabanosh. He hit into a fielder's choice to third base, where sophomore Jacob Cronenworth picked up a grounder and threw home for the tag.

That left runners at the corners with two outs for the Buckeyes, who brought home the game’s first run with a double off the bat of shortstop Craig Nenning. Szkutnik avoided further damage by striking out the next Ohio State hitter.

Leading off the bottom of the second inning was senior catcher Cole Martin, who was rewarded for a long at-bat with a single through the left side. A two-out single from junior right fielder Kevin White put two on with two outs, but Tully got a fly-out to end the threat.

From that point on, the game took a drastically different tone — one of a pitcher’s duel. No runs went on the board the rest of the way, and both teams would combine for just eight more hits over the rest of the game.

The biggest threat for either team came in the top of the ninth for the Buckeyes, who were looking to add an insurance run before Michigan’s last at-bat. Back-to-back singles with two outs put runners on the corners and knocked Szkutnik from the game. Junior left-hander James Bourque came in for relief and got Nenning to strike out looking for the third out of the inning, and the game headed to the bottom of the ninth with Ohio State leading, 1-0.

After flyouts from Martin and freshman left fielder Carmen Benedetti, junior first baseman Kyle Jusick gave the Wolverines a chance to push the tying run across by hammering a single off the second baseman’s glove.

Tully was still in the game for the Buckeyes, and after a mound visit from the Ohio State pitching coach, junior designated hitter Dominic Jamett came to the plate. He got ahead early in the count, but ended up popping out to ice the Michigan loss.

The Wolverines hit into 21 outs in the air — something that directly goes against Michigan coach Erik Bakich’s game plan of hitting line drives and hard ground balls.

“I knew we were going to win,” Szkutnik said. “We just ran out of innings. We were determined to win that game, but that’s just kind of the way it goes. We have two more games to get them.”