The pitching had been knocked the entire year, but in the Big Ten Tournament, the pitching was one of the few things that held up. Instead, poor defense – something that had haunted Michigan all year – was too much to overcome, especially when its usually reliable hitting failed it in the pinch.

Michigan (30-27) saw its season come to an end on Saturday with a 3-2 loss to Penn State. Senior relief pitcher Tim Leveque took over a 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth from junior starter Bobby Garza, but his defense suffered. Fifth-year senior first baseman Mike Sokol committed a throwing error to third on a sacrifice bunt, and senior third baseman Brock Koman followed with a fielding error that allowed a run to score. Two unearned runs crossed in the inning.

“The young guys learned a valuable lesson, and that’s how important defense is,” junior catcher Jake Fox said.

Fox’s RBI single in the ninth brought the Wolverines to within one run, but Sokol struck out swinging to end the game and the season.

“Our hitting just wasn’t there,” Sokol said. “If we would have hit, we would have won no matter how well we played defense.”

The loss to the Nittany Lions came off the heels of an emotional loss to Ohio State on Thursday and an unusual day off on Friday due to a revised tournament schedule.

Penn State’s second game was postponed on Thursday, and a scenario arose that would have forced it to play three games on Friday. Officials did not want to force it to play that many games, so the Wolverines waited until Saturday after being prepared the entire day to play.

“Sitting out was an unusual experience,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “You sit in the stands thinking you might play and then realize you have to sit through the whole next game. It gives you an up and down kind of emotion that certainly didn’t play in our favor.”

Michigan suffered a tough 4-2 loss to Ohio State on Thursday.

“We came to play against Ohio State but it didn’t work out,” Sokol said. “Baseball is a very humbling game. We hit probably six to eight shots that were line drives right at somebody.”

The Wolverines never got back to the form seen in Wednesday’s 7-2 win over Indiana, in which Michigan’s 3-4-5 hitters had five RBIs. Michigan mustered just one rally against the Buckeyes in the eighth, with sophomore right fielder Matt Butler’s homerun. Fox later came up with the bases loaded, but hit into a double play. Sokol then grounded out.

“We had the right hitters up, we just didn’t get it done,” Maloney said. “The seniors may have put too much (pressure) on themselves to try to get it done because they knew it was their moment.”

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