Michigan 9, Ohio State 4

When Rich Maloney took over as head coach for the Michigan baseball team last summer, there was only one direction he could take the program: up. That’s exactly what’s happening.

Coming off an upset victory over No. 16 Notre Dame on Tuesday, Michigan (12-10 Big Ten, 25-19 overall) handed Ohio State its first home- series loss since 1996 and left Columbus in fourth place in the Big Ten standings.

Yesterday’s 9-4 victory started out all Michigan and ended the same way. Senior center fielder Gino Lollio went 3-for-3 on the day, including a single that drove in two runs and gave the Wolverines a 3-0 lead. Lollio also added a solo homerun in the sixth. Ohio State (15-7, 28-13) pushed four runs across to cut the score to 5-4 in the eighth, but Michigan ended the threat as senior first baseman Mike Sokol blasted a three-run homerun in the top of the ninth inning.

Sophomore pitcher Drew Taylor improved to 6-1, recording seven strikeouts in his 7.2 innings of work.

“They haven’t been beaten three out of four in their park since it opened,” Sokol said. “It was a great team victory, and to be able to do that was great for our program and the new era of Michigan baseball.”

Michigan made most of its noise in Saturday’s doubleheader, taking two games from the Buckeyes by scores of 5-4 and 3-1.

The Wolverines needed extra innings to win the opener. Sophomore right fielder Matt Butler’s single brought in sophomore left fielder Chris Burhans for the winning run in the top of the eighth inning. Freshman pitcher Ali Husain – who ended Ohio State’s rally in the bottom of the seventh – shut down the Buckeyes in order in the eighth for his third win of the season.

“You have to win some close ball games to get over the top,” Maloney said. “We were playing in front of 2,400 hostile people and to pull out three games in Ohio State has to be a huge confidence booster for our team.”

The second game of the twin bill starred another Michigan pitcher – sophomore Phil Tognetti – who allowed one run on four hits in 5.2 innings to improve his record to 5-3.

Tognetti had his share of help, though. When the Buckeyes scored their lone run in the sixth, senior Tim Leveque entered and forced catcher Dave Kinnear to fly out with the bases loaded and two outs.

The Wolverines will host Northwestern next weekend, which sits at third place in the Big Ten standings.

“I honestly believe we are the best team in the Big Ten,” Taylor said. “We can play with some of the best teams in the country and now we’re starting to peak. That’s going to make the difference.”

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