Patrick Biondi’s job is plain and simple.

“As a lead-off guy, my job is to just get on base and let guys like (sophomore right-fielder) Michael (O’Neill), (senior catcher) Coley (Crank), and (freshman left-fielder) Will (Drake) — in the four-hole today — drive me in,” the junior center fielder said on Sunday, after Michigan’s 11-3 victory against Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.

Biondi, who went 7-for-11 in last weekend’s series against IPFW, has been red-hot over the past two weeks. During his current six-game hitting streak, he has hit .458.

But it’s not his batting average that has Michigan baseball coach Rich Maloney singing his praise. It’s his ability to get on base.

“He’s the key to the offense. Last weekend, he had a .500 on-base percentage, and that’s what I look at,” Maloney said. “I don’t care about your (batting) average — I’m looking at how many times you’re getting on base. That’s his job, and over the last week or so, he’s been doing a heck of a job.”

Though he has the fourth-best batting average among players that have started at least half of Michigan’s games (.294), Biondi sits atop the same group in on-base percentage (.434) because of his patience at the plate. Over the past seven games, he has walked eight times, and his season-total 15 walks place him inside the top 10 of the Big Ten.

Maloney knows that when Biondi gets on base, he will disrupt almost any opposing pitcher’s rhythm with his speed — he is currently tied for first in the conference with 15 steals.

“When he’s getting on base, he’s going to raise havoc with the pitcher,” Maloney said. “It makes it harder for the pitcher because he has to pitch out of the stretch and he has to pay a lot of attention to Patrick, and that forces him to throw some pitches he doesn’t want to throw. Over time, that will help you win.”

On Sunday, Biondi went 4-for-5 and walked once. Maloney credited him with Michigan’s offensive outbreak.

“That’s what we need him to do if we are going to have success.”

UP FOR GRABS: Even with an encouraging weekend, Maloney is still looking for answers.

When asked about which area of improvement the Wolverines need to be focusing on after Michigan’s three-game series against IPFW, there was no hesitation.

“I think our relief pitching,” Maloney said. “We have to have someone step up.”

After two months, Maloney has yet to find a consistent bullpen rotation. During the weekend, 10 different relievers made an appearance.

The relief corps didn’t start the series well, as it relinquished three extra-inning runs during Michigan’s 8-6 loss on Friday. But it bounced back, allowing just two earned runs during the rest of the series. Maloney pointed to the performances of his underclassman as positives.

“I thought (right-hander) Mike Doloff — even though he gave up some runs — looked okay, and I’m encouraged by that,” Maloney said. “He’s just a freshman, and I’ve got to get him out there.”

Maloney, though, was not fooled by the bullpen’s impressive stretch. He knows that there are still holes that need to be filled.

“Somebody has to rise up. We’ll keep throwing guys out there and hope that someone just takes the ball and says, ‘I’m the guy.’

“We need somebody on the back-end of the game to be able to shut them down. That’s the bottom line — it’s the number-one thing we have to correct.”

PITCHER AT THE PLATE: For anyone who’s been tracking the Wolverines this year, there must have been some confusion when sophomore Alex Lakatos stepped to the plate as the designated hitter during Michigan’s home opener against IPFW.

Lakatos, who has pitched 12.1 innings out of the bullpen this year, hadn’t had an at-bat all season until Friday. Unfazed, he laced the third pitch he saw to left-center field for a double. He started on Saturday as well, finishing the series 1-for-5.

The sophomore is no stranger to the batters box. In 2011, Lakatos split time between the mound and the outfield. In 128 at-bats, he batted .258 with 7 doubles, 12 runs and 10 RBIs.

The right-hander also pitched three innings in relief on Friday, allowing just one earned run.

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