Posted Feb. 25, 2008
Port St. Lucie, Fla. – Beginning its season at the New York Mets’ Spring Training complex, the No. 18 Michigan baseball team played like professionals during a three-game weekend sweep over undermatched Villanova.
The Wolverines capped off the series sweep with a 18-9 win over the Wildcats Sunday, a three and half hour marathon that included a six-run fifth inning for Michigan.
Redshirt junior Ben Jenzen, who made 25 relief appearances last season, started Sunday’s game.
Jenzen lasted just two innings and gave up two runs early in the first and four more runs in the second. Five of the RBI were off two home runs.
“We need to throw more strikes,” fifth-year senior Leif Mahler said. “We can’t let that many guys on base.”
While Mahler believed the series’ pitching left something to be desired, he offered high praise for the Michigan hitters.
Every Wolverine who came to bat recorded at least one hit during Sunday’s game.
Junior Jason Christian sparked the offense with a line drive single between first and second base for Michigan’s first hit of the game.
On the following pitch, Christian stole second base to put himself in scoring position for Mahler, who singled his teammate home for the Wolverines’ first run.
Several batters later, with the score tied 2-2, senior captain Derek VanBuskirk notched an RBI single over second base to give Michigan its first lead. Junior Kevin Cislo brought VanBuskirk home with an RBI triple extending the lead to 4-2.
After both teams continued abusing each other’s pitching staffs, the game was knotted up at seven going into the fifth inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Michigan sent 10 players to the plate and scored six runs. When the damage was done, the Wolverines’ 13-7 lead was impossible for the Wildcats to overcome.
In addition to a relentless offense, Michigan displayed two young pitchers: sophomore Jeff DeCarlo – who appeared in just four games last year – and freshman Travis Smith.
DeCarlo was credited with the win after pitching four innings while Smith was awarded an unusual three innings save.
While Smith may have had a successful first collegiate appearance, Maloney wasn’t pleased with the team’s overall defense and pitching throughout the series.
The Wolverines gave up more runs per game as the series progressed. Michigan allowed just four runs in a 13-4 drubbing Friday. But the pitchers and defense were two runs worse in Saturday’s 16-6 barnburner.
For the series, the team’s ERA was 6.00 despite Villanova hitting just .178. The 26 walks over three days didn’t make matters easy for the pitching staff. It’s an average of almost nine walks per game.
“I think we had too many freebies,” he said. “How we played in this particular series, against Oregon State or Arizona State probably wouldn’t have gotten the job done.”
The Wolverines will see if Maloney is right. On Tuesday they play the New York Mets in an exhibition game and then travel to Arizona on Thursday to see if they can “get the job done” against No. 1 Arizona State.