- Paul Sherman/Daily
By Steven Braid, Daily Sports Writer
Published March 25, 2012
Entering the weekend, the last time the Michigan baseball team won consecutive contests was during a four-game winning streak in late February. But if this weekend’s series against Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne was any indication, winning consecutive games might become a regular occurrence for the Wolverines.
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Behind a dominant pitching performance from junior left-hander Bobby Brosnahan and an offensive outbreak, Michigan (11-12) took the rubber match of the series, 11-2, after a 8-6 loss on Friday and a 4-2 victory on Saturday.
“It’s good to have (Brosnahan) back after he missed one start last week,” said Michigan coach Rich Maloney. “He was throwing three pitches for strikes, and he was outstanding. The good thing is that we got to limit his pitches.”
Brosnahan stifled IPFW’s offense all game. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning, when Mastodon third baseman Kristian Gayday led off the frame with a single. But it was the only trouble that Brosnahan encountered while on the mound. He then recorded six consecutive outs before Maloney pulled him to keep his arm fresh.
In six innings of work, Brosnahan gave up only one hit, struck out four batters and allowed just two baserunners.
“I just (tried) to mix my pitches,” Brosnahan said. “They’re not really an offensive powerhouse, so if you throw strikes, you’re going to get a good result.”
Brosnahan’s performance coincided with the Wolverines' best day at the plate in three weeks, as eight different batters recorded at least one RBI. Sparked by junior centerfielder Patrick Biondi, Michigan scored runs in four of the first five innings, including four-run frames in the fourth and fifth innings. Senior catcher Coley Crank and senior third baseman John Lorenz smacked back-to-back solo home runs to start off the bottom of the fifth inning.
But Biondi set the tone for the Wolverines. The junior — who went 4-for-5 with two runs, two RBIs and one stolen base — was a constant threat on the basepaths. The leadoff hitter went 7-for-11 during the series and reached base four more times on walks.
“I’ve been able to get on base to lead off a couple of games lately, which is good, and it helped out our team today,” Biondi said. “I’m glad that our whole team kind of woke up, because we hadn’t been playing as well as we wanted. It was nice to come out today and get a lot of hits and score some runs.”
Brosnahan wasn’t the only starting pitcher to one-hit the Mastodons this weekend. On Saturday, senior right-hander Brandon Sinnery earned his first win of the season when he befuddled IPFW’s lineup. The Mastodons managed only one hit and an unearned run against Sinnery in seven innings.
IPFW didn’t fare much better against the Wolverines’ bullpen. Freshman Trent Szkutnik, fifth-year senior Travis Smith and freshman James Bourque finished off the one-hitter, as Michigan won, 4-2. Crank batted in two runs in the first inning, and the Wolverines scored insurance runs late to secure the victory.
Michigan didn’t have as much early success at the plate in its thrilling home opener. On Friday, the Wolverines were unable to find any sort of rhythm on offense against IPFW’s Charles Weaver until the ninth inning. Weaver, who entered the series with a 5.06 ERA, allowed only one earned run and struck out out nine batters through the first eight frames. But in the ninth inning, his control deserted him. He walked two and hit a batter before being yanked with the bases loaded and one out.
The Wolverines took advantage of the opportunity. With the crowd cheering, sophomore catcher Cole Martin walked to bring in a run to cut the deficit to 5-2. Freshman left fielder Will Drake then knocked in two more runs with a two-out single before O’Neill singled home the tying run.
The two teams traded runs in the tenth inning before the Mastodons’ left fielder Carter DeBoe, who was 0-for-5 up to that point, smacked a two-run homerun off junior Kyle Clark, giving IPFW an 8-6 victory. Junior right-hander Ben Ballantine, who started the game, struck out a career-high seven batters in five innings of work.
Though a sweep was expected, Maloney was encouraged by how Michigan bounced back.
“In the first game, they took it to us,” Maloney said. “But give our kids credit for fighting back. It’s good to see our guys respond.”