Opening Day weekend started a little later than expected for the
Michigan baseball team, but it ended just the way the Wolverines
were hoping it would.

With a 9-3 victory over Oakland University (5-11 overall) the
Wolverines finished the weekend with four wins and zero losses. In
the process, the Wolverines evened their record to .500 (9-9
overall).

Pitcher Michael Penn impressed again, tossing seven and
two-thirds innings, while yielding just six hits and striking out
seven.

“Penn has been the most consistent pitcher we’ve
had, and that has been a big lift for the team,” coach Rich
Maloney said.

Penn got behind batters in almost every inning, failing to throw
first-pitch strikes. But Penn was able to battle back and get out
of potential jams.

“He wasn’t maybe as sharp as usual, but I
wasn’t overly concerned, he can always battle back,”
Maloney said. “He did a nice job today.”

Poor fielding contributed to a couple of the tougher innings for
Penn and the Wolverines yesterday. In the fourth inning, Oakland
shortstop Ryan Freiburger got hit by a pitch from Penn and advanced
to second after an error by Michigan shortstop Jeremy Goldshmeding.
With two men on and no outs, Penn managed to get out of the inning
by inducing a popped-up bunt and two fly outs.

“We did not field as well this weekend as we normally do,
but we had been fielding so well it was hard to keep it up,”
Maloney said. “It’s a concern, but I still consider
fielding to be a strength of the team.”

While the defense was not particularly stellar, the offense was
solid again against the Grizzlies, as it was all weekend. Right
fielder Matt Butler capped off a great weekend by going 2-for-4
with two RBI’s. Butler’s weekend included a line-drive
grand slam homerun down the right field line, a crowd pleaser
during Michigan’s 17-2 win over Detroit on Saturday.

First basemen Kyle Bohm also contributed, going 3-for-3 with two
doubles and one RBI. Both of Bohm’s doubles were line drive
shots that came a few feet from clearing the fences.

“(This weekend) I just saw the ball really well, and I was
able to relax and get some good hacks in,” Bohm said.

While Bohm and Butler provided some power, small-ball tactics
produced many of the Wolverines’ runs.

“Small ball has been a part of our philosophy all year
long, since we don’t have a whole lot of power,”
Maloney said. “We want to take advantage of the speed we
recruited.”

While Penn closed the series with sound pitching, the whole
weekend showcased good pitching by the Wolverines. Redshirt junior
Jim Brauer struck out a career-best 13 in the victory over Detroit
on Saturday. Also on Saturday, sophomore pitcher Derek Feldkamp
tossed seven shutout innings in the Wolverines’ 6-2 victory
over Oakland.

“It was nice to see that we pitched much better this
weekend in preparation for the Big Ten season,” Maloney
said.

With the home opener behind them, the Wolverines must now
concentrate on the Big Ten, opener against Minnesota at The Fish
next weekend. The Gophers are the preseason favorite to win the Big
Ten so the Wolverines must show consistent pitching like they did
this past weekend.

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