After Purdue third baseman John Hunter lined out to sophomore Brad Roblin to end the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader, the frustrations of the series’ first two games were finally lifted.
Overcoming the offensive woes from those games, Michigan (9-11 Big Ten, 29-14 overall) finally manufactured runs and defeated Purdue 6-2.
The Wolverines now have sole possession of sixth place in the conference.
“We ran up a pretty good streak before these past couple of games,” senior A.J. Scheidt said. “We knew we had it in us — it just came down to making more plays than they did. That’s really what the first two games came down to. We weren’t playing bad baseball — we just weren’t getting it done.”
The Wolverines got off to a hot start by scoring two runs in the first inning thanks to freshman Derek VanBuskirk’s single. But Michigan couldn’t blow the game open and held a slim 3-2 lead going into the sixth.
Scheidt led the inning off with a single, and sophomore Leif Mahler moved him over with a sacrifice bunt. After Roblin popped out and sophomore Eric Rose was hit by a pitch, senior Matt Butler stepped up to the plate. The Lombard, Ill, native smacked a three-run home run over the right field fence and gave the Wolverines the insurance they needed to finish off the Boilermakers.
“We haven’t been able to get the big hit,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “We’ve had runners on in a couple of the games we’ve played, but we couldn’t get the big hit. We’re starting to get a couple of them now — VanBuskirk had a big hit, and Matt Butler certainly did too.”
The Wolverines had trouble cashing in on opportunities in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, a 2-1 loss to Purdue.
Michigan scored its lone run in the bottom half of the inning but could have done more damage.
Senior Jeff Kunkel led off the inning with a double, and Scheidt followed with a walk. Roblin tired to bunt the two runners over but instead popped up to Boilermaker pitcher Mitch Pruemer, who made a diving catch. During the next at-bat, Kunkel was caught leaning at second and was picked off for the second out. After Mahler’s walk, Pickens came through for the Wolverines and hit a frozen rope into right centerfield to score Scheidt from second base. Sophomore Eric Rose ended the inning with a pop out to right field.
The Wolverines also had runners on first and second with one out in the fourth and fifth innings, and the tying run on second base with one out in the seventh but couldn’t break the game open.
“It’s really important that the small game is alive and well,” Maloney said. “Those little things in tight games will haunt you. And they certainly did in that game one.”
Michigan’s inability to drive in runs with runners in scoring position was just the continuation of a trend that started in the series opener on Saturday night. Michigan only managed to score just three runs in the 7-3 loss to Purdue.