When junior Mike Wilson took the mound yesterday against Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne, he knew all he had to do was get through the first inning.
After giving up just one hit and striking out his final two batters, Wilson headed to the dugout as the ace of an eight-pitcher rotation that surrendered just one earned run.
Except for junior Mike Powers, who pitched both the sixth and seventh innings, every Michigan pitcher worked one inning for the Wolverines in a 4-2 win yesterday at Ray Fisher Stadium.
“It was really no decision,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “We hadn’t played in a long time and guys have to get out there. You can’t use them much more than an inning because then they wouldn’t be ready for the weekend.”
The biggest factor in Maloney’s personnel choices was a six-day layover between games. Since last Thursday’s 7-4 win over Oakland, Michigan (10-6) had three straight contests postponed due to the winter weather.
In the seventh inning, Maloney decided to break from his pitching strategy and put Powers in for an encore performance on the mound after an impressive sixth inning.
In two innings, Powers allowed one hit and struck out two batters.
Powers struggled earlier this season, posting three straight losses against Portland, Arizona State and East Carolina, so Maloney wanted to give him a chance to regain confidence by pitching multiple innings.
“It was good to get him working, to get him two innings that were clean,” Maloney said.
But Michigan’s strong pitching wasn’t enough to secure the lead until late in the game.
In the eighth inning, the score was knotted at two before senior Derek VanBuskirk hit an RBI double to give Michigan its first lead. Two batters later, sophomore Chris Berset drove in VanBuskirk to give the Wolverines a two-run advantage.
Freshman Tyler Burgoon entered the game in the ninth inning to close out the game.
Although the Wolverines posted two runs in the eighth inning and 11 hits in the game, they struggled to drive in runs against the Mastodons.
“We just didn’t get the big inning,” Maloney said. “(There are) not too many times you’re going to complain about 11 hits.”
But four runs were enough to down IPFW (2-15-1), which struggled to adjust to Michigan’s rotating pitching staff.
Although freshman Kolby Wood earned the win with a no-hit eighth inning in his collegiate debut, it was the performance of all eight pitchers that really earned the victory.
“As a hitter, I know I don’t like seeing another pitcher because it’s hard to get in a rhythm,” VanBuskirk said. “It had to be tough on them and a lot of guys threw really well today.”