It wasn’t how senior Nate Recknagel wanted to end his career.
In the sixth inning of the Michigan baseball team’s first regional game, Kentucky’s Ryan Wilkes slammed into Recknagel’s outstretched arm, dislodging the Wolverine first baseman’s elbow.
Wilkes had bunted down the third-base line, and despite the collision, Recknagel made a catch from pitcher Eric Katzman to record the out.
Recknagel held up the ball for the umpire and quickly retreated to the locker room, where a doctor told him he partially dislocated his left elbow.
If the Wolverines had reached the College World Series, Recknagel may have been ready to play.
“A lot of guys were pretty psyched up to get there, so that I could get back in the lineup again,” Recknagel said.
Recknagel was a second-team All-American and the Big Ten Player of the Year. In early May, he broke the Michigan record for most home runs in season, finishing with 23.
The Wolverines could have used his power this weekend, especially in a tight 4-3 loss to Arizona. Sophomore Alan Oaks replaced him at the plate against the Wildcats and went 0-4.
But Recknagel was forced to watch his team from the dugout with his left arm in a sling.
“To sit back and watch them lose two straight games, it’s hard for me to handle,” Recknagel said. “Everything we do is as a team. We lose as a team and win as a team.”
Draft bound?: While Michigan’s seniors know their careers in Ann Arbor came to a close yesterday, there are a few juniors whose future is up in the air.
The 2008 Major League Baseball draft will be held on June 5 and 6, and two Michigan juniors are likely to be picked.
Zach Putnam was selected in the 38th round of the 2005 draft by the Detroit Tigers but decided to attend Michigan and improve his draft stock.
Three years later, Putnam is one of the best pitchers in college baseball. He went 9-0 with a 2.58 ERA this year and is ranked as the 50th best pitcher in the draft by Baseball America.
Another likely draft pick is shortstop Jason Christian, ranked as the 117th best prospect for position players by Baseball America.
Juniors Chris Fetter and Adam Abraham are also possible draft picks in the upcoming draft.
Both players are undecided on whether they will leave for the major leagues and will wait until after the draft to make a decision.
“The kids have dreams, and if the opportunity is right for them, they have to pursue that opportunity,” Maloney said. “I don’t think any of these guys are going to rush out the door. People are going to have to pay these guys to leave here.”
Pack ’em in: Michigan set an attendance record for the newly renovated Ray Fisher Stadium this weekend.
A combined 4,154 fans packed into the stadium for two games Saturday.
Arizona coach Andy Lopez even appreciated the enthusiastic crowd because Arizona has had lackluster home attendance all season.
“It’s fun to see a community support a program like they did tonight,” Lopez said after Arizona beat Michigan 4-3. “I’m very envious.”
Friday night’s crowd was the largest of the regional for a single game. 4,082 people alone bought tickets to the game. University President Mary Sue Coleman and many of the donors who supported the stadium renovation were on hand to witness Michigan host the regional.
“It was a fantastic crowd,” Maloney said. “You couldn’t pack any more people in here.”