Friday, April 29, 2011

Michigan Series Preview

Before providing a preview on the Michigan Wolverines (13-25, 6-6), here are a few links from outside publications relating to the Ohio State baseball team.

Mark Znidar of The Columbus Dispatch has a story on Andrew Armstrong and his recovery from arm surgery as the pitcher operates well following surgery.

Jeff Svoboda of Buckeye Sports Bulletin provides a preview of the weekend and touches on catcher Greg Solomon's impact on the team in his first season.

The Lantern has.... nothing. There isn't an online story of Ohio State baseball nor Michigan weekend from the student newspaper of Ohio State

But Michigan's student newspaper, The Michigan Daily has a nice trio of articles, as Michigan, O'Neill sets to face Ohio State. They also have a lengthy feature on O'Neill with a story on community, identity, and baseball, and lastly they touch on the Big Ten with a midseason glimpse.

Now for more on the weekend with the Wolverines

Game times: 7:05 Friday, 3:05 Saturday, 1:05 Sunday.

Media: Friday night's game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. As always live stats are available through the Ohio State website, and the broadcast can be heard locally on 1460 WBNS-AM. Game three will be stream on

Weather: Friday, high of 61, party cloudy, 30% chance of rain. Saturday, high of 71, sunny, 0% chance of rain. Sunday, high of 62, showers likely, chance of rain 50%

Series stats: Michigan holds an 160-93-2 all-time advantage over Ohio State. Michigan won the 2010 series two games to one with the Buckeyes taking the middle game. Ohio State won the 2009 series behind Alex Wimmers' no-hitter two-to-one. Outside of that it has been Michigan dominance as going back to 2005, the Wolverines went 12-1 in regular season contests against the Buckeyes.

Probable starters: Ohio State will keep it's weekend rotation the same going with Sr. RHP Drew Rucinski (4-1, 2.22), Jr. RHP Brett McKinney (1-3, 5.77), and Fr. RHP Greg Greve (1-1, 6.46).

Michigan may counter with Soph. LHP Bobby Brosnahan (1-7, 7.41), Soph. RHP Kyle Clark (2-4, 3.59), and Jr. RHP Brandon Sinnery (2-2, 2.56). Michigan does not have a Friday night starter listed, a role Brosnahan has been in but struggled. Clark and Sinnery are listed as Saturday or Sunday starters. Sinney has made just three starts on the year, with two being the last two Sundays, both being complete game victories. Freshman Alex Lakatos may also see the mound for Michigan as he is 2-2 with a 5.53 ERA with three starts in 12 appearances to his credit.

Last weekend results: Ohio State went 1-2 against Penn State while Michigan went 2-1 against Iowa to enter the weekend in a five-way tie for fourth with Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana joining the two at 6-6. Where OSU won game one of the series, 5-1, before falling 5-2, and 10-9, Michigan lost game one versus the Hawkeyes 13-7 before rebounding with 2-1 and 5-2 victories.

Conference team statistics: where the two teams fall in a handful of offensive and defensive ranks:

Hitting: OSU 3rd (.296), Michigan 10th (.250)
Slugging: OSU 4th (.391), Michigan 10th (.324)
On-base: OSU 3rd (.372), Michigan 10th (.329)
Home runs: both tied for seventh with nine
Stolen bases: OSU t-8 (22), Michigan t-4 (57)
ERA: OSU 8th (4.89), Michigan 10th (5.16)
OBA: OSU 6th (.283), Michigan 9th (.292)
Saves: both tied for eighth with five
Wild pitches: OSU 2nd (42), Michigan 1st (48)
Fielding: OSU 8th .959, Michigan 5th (.967)

Conference individual statistics: Neither team has a player in the top 10 in average, slugging, on-base, runs, and hits. Josh Dezse is 10th in RBI with 29. Michigan's Coley Crank is sixth in doubles with 12, while Buckeye catcher Greg Solomon is in a nine-way tie for third in triples with three. Crank is in a five-way tie for seventh with four home runs. Michigan players sit 1-2 in stolen bases as Pat Biondi has 21 and O'Neill 20.

On the mound Rucinski's 2.22 ERA is the best in the Big Ten. Sinnery's 2.56 mark is fourth. Also fourth is the .243 opponents batting average for Sinnery while Rucinski's .254 is seventh. Armstrong leads the conference with 21 apperances.

The entire run down of Big Ten stats can be found here

For more statistics, individual highlights, and a handful of other notes and news, here is the Ohio State release and also the Michigan release.

A few words on the opposition:

Was able to catch up this week with the coach of the Wolverines to get his take on where the team stands at the halfway point of the Big Ten season. A few highlights and notes from our talk.

It is exam week in Ann Arbor, bringing an unusual feeling to a weekend with enough hightened stressed and emotion as is. With exams, Maloney gave the team Monday and Tuesday off. While Maloney says he had yet and didn't anticipate any special words for the weekend he did say to have a rival like Ohio State is a special thing.

Maloney spoke fairly often about how proud he is of his players to be in the position they are, a game back of first place in the Big Ten, after the rough start they had. At one point Michigan was 9-23 overall and 2-5 in the Big Ten. To many the Wolverines were thought to be dead, but since then, Michigan won the final two games of the Illinois series, took the Iowa series, and now come to Columbus with momentum.

The rough start Michigan had can be contributed to a few things in Maloney's mind. Where the team lost Tyler Burgoon and Matt Miller to the draft, two potential starters that were on the fence about leaving or returning, they also lost two starters in senior righties Kolby Wood and Travis Smith in the first two weeks of the season.

The injuries didn't stop there as Michigan lost sophomore short stop Derek Dennis for the first three weekends of Big Ten play. Dennis went 3-for-3 in game one versus Iowa before finishing the weekend 1-for-8. With Dennis out of the lineup, Michigan relied heavily on its speedy outfielders O'Neill and sophomore Biondi. The two form the Big Ten's best duo of defensive outfielders, covering grass with range like no other. They also provide good bats in the lineup in their respective leadoff and three-hole spots. The two come into the weekend with an identical .303 average with an almost matching 21-for-25 in stolen bases for Biondi, 20-for-25 for O'Neill.

At times, well many times, Michigan has struggled offensively. Maloney says the team really struggled at the plate at the start of the season and from their their confidence was a bit shaken. The losing season is the first Maloney has experienced in his coaching tenure and took the program some time to regroup. But the Wolverines have and the team heads to Columbus with what they feel is a great opportunity to get closer to the top of the standings.

It will definitely be a fun weekend at Bill Davis Stadium. Hope to see you there.

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