A smorgasbord of Michigan pitchers marched to the mound yesterday for the Michigan baseball team, but no one could stop the streak of bad pitching.
The Wolverines lost 10-2 to Central Michigan, dropping their record to 2-3 against teams from the Mid-American Conference this season. It was their worst loss to a MAC team since a 14-0 loss to the Chippewas in 2002.
“We lost a ton of guys (before the season) and with that being said, the MAC, they sense that, they’re no fools,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “When I was in the MAC, when I was a player, I wanted to beat Michigan because I wanted to go to Michigan. All those guys wish they were at Michigan. … That’s the truth. So the reality is they’re coming ready to play.”
In last Sunday’s 16-5 loss to Penn State, Michigan exhausted its bullpen by using five relievers in five innings. Freshman Brandon Sinnery, sophomore Travis Smith and senior Mike Wilson all saw the mound Sunday, and each pitched yesterday, too.
Without a clear candidate to start against the Chippewas (4-5 MAC, 14-17 overall), Michigan decided to have a staff day. The Wolverines relied on multiple pitchers for a few innings at a time after starter Kevin Vangheluwe went as far as he could.
Vangheluwe took the mound in his first career start. He didn’t last long — four runs and less than two innings later, he was gone.
Six relievers were used after the freshman was pulled from the game.
“For us, we want to see a lot of different guys anyhow, because, quite frankly, we haven’t been pitching very well,” Maloney said. “So therefore we’re waiting for someone to step up.”
Mishaps and miscues didn’t help the relievers, who gave up six runs while they tried to stop the bleeding. No pitcher recorded more than five outs.
Maloney said one bright spot was the pitching of sophomore Kolby Wood, who had “nasty” stuff. Wood pitched 1.2 perfect innings and struck out three batters.
Central Michigan’s freshman pitcher Rick Dodridge effectively controlled the Wolverine batters. Dodridge shined despite entering the game with a 5.96 earned run average. Michigan (3-3 Big Ten, 18-11) managed just five hits off him in over six innings of work.
“It’s a huge momentum swing to have to comeback from a deficit,” senior tri-captain Kevin Cislo said. “The first team that scores usually wins. We have to find a way to shut down teams early in the game and have our offense pick it up. We haven’t been able to do that all year.”
The Wolverines have lost six of its last 10 games, and after yesterday’s loss, their problems are getting worse.
“It’s not that the guys aren’t trying,” Maloney said. “They may even be trying more than they should be trying. I don’t know. But right now it’s more psychological than it is anything else. It’s not the opponent – we are the opponent. We’re beating ourselves.”