WEST LAFAYETTE — Michigan coach Rich Maloney calls them “freebies,” and the Wolverines have given away a handful of wins based on walks.

This weekend was no different.

On Friday, Michigan entered Lambert Field sitting second-to-last in the conference with 189 walks. By the end of the weekend, Purdue had tallied 21 runs and claimed this season’s Big Ten title, but the Wolverines had done little more than allow 14 Boilermakers to reach first base free of charge.

“Especially against a great team like that, you can’t give them anything,” Maloney said.

On Saturday, four hurlers shared time on the mound, though none of them managed to consistently find the strike zone. The umpire called ball four numerous times, and senior catcher Coley Crank scrambled for pitches in the dirt as the Wolverines’ pushed their walk count past 200.

Walk Count: 189

Senior right-hander Brandon Sinnery has walked very few batters this season — just eight in 54.1 innings of conference play. He’s given up only one per Big Ten outing, except against the Boilermakers, where he logged two.

Though Sinnery delivered a solid performance on Friday, his pair of walks became the catalyst for the six pitchers that followed.

Walk Count: 191

Sophomore right-hander Alex Lakatos’ closing appearance last Wednesday nearly foreshadowed Saturday’s results. Lakatos threw for the final frame against Coastal Carolina and allowed the only two runs of the night.

Lakatos started the middle match this weekend with little success. Even though he threw the only scoreless inning against Purdue, he lasted just 2.2 innings, giving up three earned runs on five walks.

“It’s something that we’ve always preached,” said junior right-hander Ben Ballantine. “We can’t walk guys, we can’t hit guys and let them get on base.”

With two outs and the bases loaded, freshman left-hander Trent Szkutnik came into relief. After giving up five earned runs in the midst of a triplet of walks, he was yanked from the game. Senior right-hander Kevin Vangheluwe and freshman right-hander James Bourque tacked on the final three walks en route to dropping the 14-3 contest.

Walk Count: 202

On Sunday, Ballantine stepped onto the mound, topping the team with 32 freebies this year.

But against Purdue, he took command of the strike zone in 50 of his 72 total pitches, posting his first walk-less outing this season.

“All year, walks have kind of been my Achilles heel,” Ballantine said. “They’ve taken me out of games. … You’d much rather give up a hit than a walk — you’d rather have him earn his way on base.”

Redshirt junior left-hander Bobby Brosnahan remained on pitch count while his shoulder continued to regain strength. During his stint of healthy play at the start of the season, he had no problems throwing indisputable strikes.

Brosnahan’s 8.2 innings since coming off the disabled list has been no different, giving up only one walk in the final three frames against the Boilermakers.

Walk Count: 203

To put the number into perspective, Purdue has posted less than half (106) the number of the Wolverine freebies, just two coming from this weekend’s series.

But the Michigan bullpen is not completely to blame for this season’s poor conclusion. In 2008, the Wolverines finished with a 46-14 record with 237 walks — it’s about the timely pitch.

With an inconsistent offense and slew of injuries, Michigan’s pitching staff has been a lackluster backup.

“Purdue is a really good hitting team,” said junior center fielder Patrick Biondi. “When you give them walks, it’s going to be really tough to play with them. … I don’t know — there’s not a whole lot to say. We just didn’t throw as well as we could.”

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