The “Wallverine” was the center of attention at Fisher Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Michigan must have had a long-ball magnet hidden behind the leftfield wall during its 9-5 win over Penn State in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. The Wolverines hit five home runs in the game, most of which cleared the wall at its peak.
The red-brick wall, nicknamed the “Wallverine” by a member of the Athletic Department, stands 26 feet high and 100 feet wide. Built during the stadium’s recent renovation, the wall is meant to be something opponents remember when they play in Ann Arbor.
“When we built the stadium, we had it put in,” Maloney said. “I just wanted the park to be unique. It gives it character. And I think from our standpoint, it gives us somewhat of an advantage in the sense that our guys know how to play the wall. … Aesthetically, I think it looks good, it gives a good feel to the ballpark, and I’ve always liked the Fenway monster, so it’s kinda cool.”
After the Wolverines lost 6-4 in the first game, sophomore centerfielder Ryan LaMarre jumpstarted the Michigan offense. LaMarre who had two of the five home runs in the second game Saturday and another on Sunday. But others got in on the act.
“The dugout usually goes wild for home runs,” LaMarre said. “It’s contagious when you see guys like (fifth-year senior tri-captain) Timmy (Kalczynski) doing it. … The dugout goes insane.”
Twice as nice: The Wolverines played in just their third doubleheader of the season Saturday. And just like in their earlier double dips, their offense erupted.
Michigan played two games in one day at Jacksonville on Feb. 28 and then played another doubleheader on Mar. 8 vs. Siena. The Wolverines were 3-1 in those games and averaged more than 13 runs per contest while allowing an average of just over five runs.
Even though the Wolverines split this weekend’s doubleheader, the offense again brought out the big bats.
In each game, Michigan won using different offensive strategies. In the first game, it strung together timely hits with men on base to score four runs in the 6-4 extra-inning loss. But in the second game, the Wolverines’ five home runs carried them to a 9-5 win.
“I think we’ve played in a lot of situations this year when the wind has been blowing out, (and) that’s when we can rely on the long ball,” LaMarre said. “But lately we’ve been playing in games where the wind is blowing in at 40-50 miles per hour and it’s good to have a team that can win in multiple ways.”
Michigan has no more doubleheaders scheduled this season.
Dufek in demand: Junior Mike Dufek has had an interesting season so far, to say the least. As a starting position player who also serves as the team’s closer, the Wolverines have welcomed his versatility and ability to throw hard.
“To play 16, 17 innings in the field and then come out and go on the mound, that’s pretty special,” senior pitcher Chris Fetter said. “I know it’s very tiring, but he still came out and was throwing 90, 92 (miles per hour) and he was doing the job. That’s big for us. We need someone like that to step up and close.”
In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Dufek hit a two-run homer, then pitched 1.2 innings to get his third save of the season. His earned run average is now 2.84, third-best on the team. He struck out two batters on Saturday to raise his season total to 14.
This season, Dufek has homered in three games in which he has then eventually entered as a pitcher.
“When I go out to pitch, I try to clear my mind of anything else that happened (at the plate) and try and separate the two,” Dufek said Saturday. “Because if you take what you did at the plate out to the mound, if you struggled at the plate, it’s not going to be good because you’re be flustered on the mound.”