Strong pitching, comeback victory on Sunday, clinches home series for baseball against Iowa

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By Shannon Lynch, Daily Sports Writer
Published May 5, 2013

Until Saturday, Michigan had not lost at home since March 30th. So when the heartbreaking loss to Iowa came after 12 innings on Saturday, there was even more motivation to come back and clinch the series in the final game on Sunday.

And that’s exactly what the Wolverines did, delivering a dramatic loss of their own.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, freshman third baseman Jacob Cronenworth walked with two outs, and sophomore left fielder Zach Zott came up to bat.

“I told him, ‘Just be selective for a pitch you can drive, only swing at a pitch you can drive, get something up in the zone,’ ” Michigan coach Eric Bakich said. “Hit something in the gap and see if we can score Cronie.”

Zott was listening well, then.

On the 1-1 pitch, he belted a two-run homer and gave Michigan the 4-3 lead to secure the series.

Though they trailed 3-0 until the bottom of the seventh, the Wolverines (10-8 Big Ten, 24-21 overall) closed out the day for a much-needed Big Ten victory.

Junior left-handed pitcher Logan McAnallen pitched a full eight innings, and earned a career-high nine strikeouts before sophomore right-hander James Bourque came in for the save in the ninth.

“It feels good, you know,” McAnallen said. “Just focused on executing fastballs in and out and that’s where I got most of my strikeouts.”

The game was a pitching battle through the first four innings of play, and neither team was able to put any runs on the board. Michigan’s leadoff hitter, senior center fielder Patrick Biondi, went 0-4 on the day, as did junior right fielder Michael O’Neill.

“Pat and Mike, they’re not struggling, they just didn’t have their best day today,” Bakich said. “We had a lot of zeroes up on the scoreboard and we just needed someone else to step up in a big stop.”

Still scoreless in the top of the fifth, McAnallen started to look a little shaky. He allowed a single and a double with no outs, and a bunt brought in the runner on third. McAnallen was then charged with a balk, soon followed by another double to left-center, which scored two more runners.

Michigan was eventually able to get out of a jam, but not before giving Iowa (5-13, 17-25) a formidable 3-0 lead. McAnallen had a rough inning, but Bakich didn’t pull him.

“Logan’s tough and we want him on the mound when the game’s on the line,” Bakich said. “He’s pitched very well his last three starts and we just knew he was going to grind it out.”

Michigan didn’t answer back offensively until the bottom of the seventh. With two outs and runners on first and second, Bakich brought in pinch hitter Kevin White, who delivered with a two-run RBI.

McAnallen came back in the eighth inning and didn’t allow any hits, keeping Iowa’s lead at 1.

And it would be important when Zott’s blast put the team up by one run.

“I can’t even explain the feeling, you know?” McAnallen said. “Happy for him, happy for the team – it was awesome.”

The win came after the Wolverines lost their first game at home in over a month. Michigan held on to a one-run lead into the eighth inning on Saturday, but gave up a run to send them into extra innings before a go-ahead run in the 12th. In Friday’s contest, the Wolverines were used a three-run first inning to propel them to the win.

Michigan will be back on its home turf on Tuesday to finish their delayed April game against Eastern Michigan.