By Shannon Lynch, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 5, 2013
On Monday night, as the warm sun set over Fort Meyers, FL, the Michigan baseball team (5-6) stepped onto the field for batting practice, looking to earn one more win before heading to California for their next round of tournament play.
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Having just won three games in the Snowbird Invitational, the team knew what was necessary to secure a victory — a strong presence at-bat coupled with solid and consistent pitching. But the Wolverines were unable to deliver in either category, and fell to Florida Gulf Coast University, 11-6.
After three scoreless innings, the defensive presence Michigan had all weekend began to unravel — redshirt junior lefthander Logan McAnallen gave up three hits and four runs, and the Wolverines earned two throwing errors that allowed runners to advance easily. FGCU (9-3) earned four more runs before the end of the fifth inning to take a 8-0 lead.
Freshman pitcher Jacob Cronenworth was able to score a run off a sacrifice fly in the fifth, and sophomore pitcher Kyle Jusick brought in another run off a wild pitch, cutting Florida Gulf Coast’s big lead by two. In general, though, Michigan’s lineup was unable to answer back substantially, earning only one hit in the first six innings of play.
“I think we made it a little bit too easy early on with a lot of 1,2,3 innings and we didn’t get a chance to push the tempo on the bases which is kind of our game,” said senior captain Patrick Biondi. “I mean, it happens in baseball but moving forward that would definitely be a point of emphasis where we’re trying to get guys on early and put pressure on the other team.”
The Eagles earned three more runs in the top of the seventh to extend its lead to 11-4. Cronenworth came on the mound for Michigan in the eighth and pitched a scoreless inning, striking out three. His performance seemed to drive the Wolverine’s offense, who then earned four runs of five straight hits in the bottom of the eighth.
Biondi singled and scored on a base hit from junior outfield Michael O'Neill, who then scored off a double from freshman infielder Travis Maezes. Cronenworth reached first on an infield single and scored off a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly by Jusick brought in sophomore outfielder Zach Zott for Michigan’s sixth and final run of the game.
Bur the surge at the plate wasn’t enough to keep Michigan in the game. A weak at-bat performance in the beginning of the game and the inability to capitalize in the ninth prevented Michigan from earning another win during their stint in Florida.
“We hit the ball hard but we have to do a little better job early in the game of getting guys on base, whether its getting walked, getting hit by pitches, whatever it is,” Biondi said. “We need to put on the pressure with our level of playing.”
The Wolverines travel to California to compete in the University of San Diego Invitational this upcoming weekend, which serves as another opportunity for coaches and players to make the necessary adjustments in order to succeed.
“The opportunity to go and win some games this weekend is gonna get everybody up,” Biondi said. “I think it’s just something that as a baseball player, you expect and you’re used to, and we’re just excited to have another opportunity to play.”