Bloopers are usually something that people laugh at. But in the final game of Michigan’s series against Purdue yesterday, those normally comedic moments were the difference between a win and a loss.

The Michigan baseball team (10-11 Big Ten, 30-14 overall) edged Purdue 5-4 on Jeff Kunkel’s game-winning blooper single in the bottom of the ninth. The Wolverines’ victory resulted in a 2-2 series split against the Boilermakers (11-9, 18-24).

Michigan patched together a 4-3 lead heading into the top of the ninth inning, and junior Derek Feldkamp retired the first two batters. But after Eric Wolfe singled up the middle, the next batter, John Hunter, blooped the first pitch to centerfield with sophomore Eric Rose and junior Chris Getz converging on the ball. The two collided as the ball fell to the ground, and pinch runner John Phegley scored from first to tie the game at four runs.

The collision occurred as Getz tried to jump over the diving Rose. Getz — whose knee hit Rose’s back on the play — was shaken up. But Rose laid on the turf for nearly 10 minutes before he was carted off the field. His status is unknown.

“I threw a really, really good cut-finger (fastball), and the guy plopped it to centerfield,” Feldkamp said. “It was a freak play and stuff like that happens. You just got to play through it, and finally one bounced our way in the ninth.”

Getz started the bottom of the ninth with a single off the glove of third basemen Mike Marx. Junior Mike Schmidt — who came in for Rose — laid a bunt down the third-base line, but Marx read the play early and nailed Getz at second.

“We knew that the guy was charging in from third and (Schmidt) had seen it on the first pitch,” Maloney said. “He knows that we cannot bunt the ball there because we’ll give them an out. But he did, and it was just a bad play and at a bad time.”

In the next at-bat, senior Kyle Bohm lined one off the glove of shortstop Mitch Hilligoss. Hilligoss kept the ball in the infield, making it one out with runners on first and second. After Roblin flied out to left field, Kunkel hit a blooper to left centerfield. Leftfielder Andy Dahl dived too early and the ball dropped in for a single, scoring Schmidt for the game-winning run.

The late-inning heroics gave Feldkamp the win — his first since March 27 against Oakland. The left-hander relieved sophomore Clayton Richard in the eighth inning with one out and  runners on first and third. Feldkamp held on to the 4-3 lead with two key outs on just three pitches.

“I came in and threw the two-seem (fastball), which got the (first) guy to pop up,” Feldkamp said. “Then I was able to spot my fastball to the outside and get the (second) guy to ground out and got out of a big jam.”

Junior Drew Taylor got the start, yielding three runs in 6 2/3 innings. Taylor entered the game with a 0-1 record and 7.36 ERA in Big Ten play.

“This was one of the first times this year where I felt I had my control and pretty good velocity,” Taylor said.

In Taylor’s start against Michigan State last Sunday, control was a major problem. He lasted only two innings, yielding four runs on four walks and hitting two batters. But the left-hander was in control yesterday, throwing strikes early and often. He gave up just one walk and forced seven 0-2 counts and zero 3-0 counts.

“I’ve been coming back from an injury last year and my arm is starting to loosen up,” Taylor said. “Now that it’s loosening up, I need to make some adjustments to keep my control. This week (pitching coach Bob) Keller and I worked on getting it a little tighter.”

While the pitching staff kept Michigan in the game, the offense struggled with runners in scoring position. Their inability to execute at the plate and on the basepaths — a big reason for their 2-1 loss in the second game of the series — limited the Wolverines to only two runs in the first five innings. In that span, 11 Michigan batters reached base on seven hits, three walks and one error.

The Wolverines finally got the spark they needed in the sixth inning when Eric Rose drilled a two-RBI single to centerfield, scoring Getz and Mahler. But the Boilermakers responded in the following inning with two runs on two doubles. Richard relieved Taylor and notched the final out of the seventh inning.

Despite losing two of their first three matchups against Purdue, the Wolverines entered the final game in sixth place of the Big Ten at 9-11. Fortunately for Michigan, both Penn State and Northwestern — which were ahead of the Wolverines in the conference standing — were swept this weekend, putting them in a tie for seventh place and Michigan comfortably in sixth.

 “It was a huge win for us — no question,” Maloney said. “Now we’re 10-11, only one game behind .500. Indiana is coming in next weekend. We need to find a way to win — some how, some way.”

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