After a terrible 0-4 start to the Big Ten season against three-time defending conference champion Minnesota, Michigan looked to rebound against Iowa. Under Michigan coach Rich Maloney’s tenure, the Wolverines had a 6-2 record against the Hawkeyes. But Iowa improved upon its record against Maloney this weekend, taking three of four from Michigan including a 7-6 win yesterday.
“It was Iowa’s weekend — there’s no question,” Michigan coach Rich Maloney said. “(Iowa) battled, and I didn’t think our kids played bad. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that big hit, and, to their credit, they put a lot of balls in play and they were finding a lot of holes and you have to tip your hat off to them.”
The sixth inning of yesterday’s game epitomized the entire weekend for the Michigan baseball team.
The game went back and forth, but the Wolverines (1-7 Big Ten, 18-10 Overall) took a 5-4 lead after senior Matt Butler hit a two run home run in the fourth. Two batters later, senior Kyle Bohm made it 6-4 when he singled in junior Chris Getz from second. After a scoreless fifth, Iowa (5-3, 9-15) struck again in the sixth.
Junior Derek Feldkamp began the top half of the inning with a strikeout. He then hit the next batter and gave up two consecutive hits before being pulled from the game for senior Paul Hammond. Hammond was able to record the second out of the inning but quickly fell behind to Iowa senior Justin Petty, 2-0. Petty roped the third pitch of the at-bat down the rightfield line and three runs scored as a result of the triple.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Wolverines had an opportunity to regain the lead when they loaded the bases with one out. But sophomore Brad Roblin struck out and junior A.J. Scheidt grounded out to the first baseman, ending the inning and the Michigan threat.
“It seems like this weekend has just been a weekend where we didn’t put anything together in the end,” Getz said. “It was almost kind of lax, too lax. We’re a team with passion, and we’re not showing that.”
The Wolverines had trouble all weekend coming back after losing the lead in all three of their losses.
In Friday’s game, Michigan gave up 10 runs in the eighth and was trailing 13-11. But the Wolverines only answered back with a fly out and two groundouts in the bottom half of the inning. In the ninth, junior Mike Schmidt led off with a walk. But Scheidt and Roblin both struck out looking on tough pitches from Iowa reliever Tim Gudex. Freshman Doug Pickens was able to single in Schmidt — who advanced to second on a wild pitch — to bring the game within one, but sophomore Eric Rose ended the game with a weak ground ball to the pitcher.
“There’s not much you can say out there,” Getz said. “It’s not like we’re booting the ball. We didn’t really lose it ourselves — I mean, they out-hit us.”
The Wolverines’ troubles continued in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. In the seventh and final inning of the game, Michigan trailed Iowa 5-3. Senior Matt Butler led off with a single, then moved over to second base after Getz grounded out to first. But the Wolverines failed to put anymore runners on base. It looked as though senior Kyle Bohm would tie the game with a two-run homerun when he jumped all over a 3-1 pitch from Gudex, but the ball was caught just short of the warning track. With two outs, redshirt junior Jeff Kunkel ended the game on a three-pitch strikeout.
“Early in the year we were getting all those big hits,” Maloney said. “That’s why we were 16-3. And one of the reasons why we’re in a big slump now is that we’re not getting that big hit.”
Michigan’s lone bright spot of the weekend was the first game of the doubleheader on Saturday. Senior Michael Penn earned the win pitching six and a third innings allowing two runs off four hits. The Wolverines broke open a 0-0 tie in the sixth inning when Kunkel hit a three-run double. Schmidt knocked in Kunkel with a single to make the game 4-0. Iowa scored two runs in the seventh, and threatened with runners on second and third. But sophomore Clayton Richard settled down and forced the Hawkeye batters into two ground outs — one to the pitcher and one to second — to end the game.