The Nielsen ratings took a dive in yesterday’s series finale against Indiana.
The Wolverines (14-11 Big Ten, 35-14 overall) piled up seven runs in the bottom of the first inning against Indiana starter Steve Nielsen en route to a 9-4 win. Nielsen recorded just two outs and was credited with six of the seven runs.
The victory completed a four-game sweep over Indiana (8-20, 25-27) in Michigan’s final home series of the season. It was the seventh straight win for the Wolverines, who have won 16 of their last 18 games.
“We’ve been battling all year,” coach Rich Maloney said. “To finally get over .500 is refreshing considering the 1-8 start. When you struggle as we did early on, a lot of teams would fold, but we didn’t.”
Junior Chris Getz led off the first inning with a bunt single, and sophomore Eric Rose was plunked in the next at-bat to give Michigan runners on first and second with no outs. Senior Kyle Bohm lined a single to right field, scoring Getz to tie the game at one.
A four-pitch walk to senior Matt Butler preceded a chopper up the middle by sophomore Brad Roblin. The single brought in Bohm while Butler and Roblin advanced on an errant throw by centerfielder Reggie Watson. A triple by junior A.J. Scheidt and a double by freshman Doug Pickens added four more runs.
Senior Drew Taylor got the start for the Wolverines and took full advantage of the early run support. The imposing left-hander yielded three earned runs on a season-high 7 2/3 innings while notching his third win of the year. Taylor — who was sidelined last season with a severe shoulder injury — threw his second quality start in as many games and looks to be returning to his 2003 form when he was 9-1 with a 3.97 ERA.
“This was the first time in a long time that I’ve thrown into the eighth inning,” Taylor said. “It seems like every time I go out there I gain some more arm strength.”
Sophomore Clayton Richard got the final four outs, posting a team-best fifth save of the season.
Bohm went 3-for-5 with four RBI, including a two-out, two-RBI single in the eighth inning — the senior’s final at-bat at the Fish. Bohm was dominant all weekend for Michigan, batting 8-for-15 with six RBI.
“I haven’t really felt like I’ve been hot all year, so I’m really trying to work towards that as we get closer to the (Big Ten) tournament,” Bohm said. “I’m really trying to be a little more aggressive down the stretch because the scouting report on me is that I take a lot of pitches.”
Even though Michigan set the tone early in the fourth game, it was the pitching staff that carried them on Saturday’s twinbill.
With Friday’s game postponed due to rain, the Wolverines played four games in approximately 27 hours. Unable to squander relievers, Maloney needed his first two starters to go deep, and they answered the call.
In the first two games, both Jim Brauer and Michael Penn threw complete games, allowing just two runs apiece. The Wolverines swept the doubleheader, winning by scores of 6-2 and 5-2, respectively.
The Wolverines’ hurlers weren’t as sharp in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, allowing five runs on seven hits and four walks. But the Michigan offense took advantage of Indiana’s sloppy defense — the Hoosiers amassed four errors, two coming in the five-run fifth inning.
Junior Derek Feldkamp got the win — his fourth in nine appearances since being sent to the bullpen — as Michigan beat Indiana 8-5. Richard recorded the save, retiring all five batters he faced.
Michigan’s four-game sweep puts them comfortably in sixth place in the Big Ten standings — a crucial position since only the top six qualify for the Big Ten tournament.