Senior Sam Elam struck out career-high tying nine in losing effort.

Wolverines Capitalize On Irish Miscue To Take Game One, 3-2

April 22, 2009

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Michigan scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error in the top of the seventh inning to defeat Notre Dame, 3-2, in the first game of a doubleheader (two seven-inning games) at Frank Eck Stadium Wednesday afternoon. Senior left-handed hurler Sam Elam (Mesquite, Texas), starting for the first time since May 6, 2007, was the tough luck loser, striking out a career-high tying nine in 6.0+ innings of work.

In the seventh, Elam walked Kenny Fellows to open the inning and was lifted in favor of junior Steven Mazur (Round Rock, Texas). After Anthony Toth bunted Fellows to second, Mike Dufek hit a ground ball to junior second baseman and defensive replacement Ryne Intlekofer (Moorpark, Calif.), who fielded the ball cleanly, but his throw sailed wide of junior first baseman Casey Martin (Chesterton, Ind.), allowing Toth to score from second.

Junior A.J. Pollock (Hebron, Conn.) reached base in all four plate appearances for the Irish (22-15), amassing two walks, his team-leading 11th double of the year, and his team-leading 15th stolen base. Junior David Mills (Battle Creek, Mich.) went 2-for-4 with a run scored and senior Evan Sharpley (Marshall, Mich.), who had one hit in his past14 at bats, notched a game-tying RBI single in the sixth.

Elam (0-1) gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits, walking four and striking out nine. The outing was the second longest of Elam’s career, eclipsed only by his memorable nine-inning, one-hit performance against Purdue on April 18, 2007, a game in which he had a no-hitter through 7.2 innings. Elam also struck out nine in that game. The nine strikeouts tied for the most by an Irish pitcher this season; freshman Steve Sabatino (Lockport, Ill.) fanned nine against Grambling on March 11. Michigan hitters Fellows, Dufek, and Allen Oaks went a combined 1-for-9 with seven strikeouts against Elam.

Tyler Burgoon (4-0) picked up the win in his 15th relief appearance for the Wolverines (22-16), tossing 2.0 scoreless innings and striking out two Irish batters in the bottom of the seventh with the tying run on base. Toth and Coley Crank led the Wolverines with two hits apiece.

The Irish stranded 10 runners in the game, including six in scoring position, and went 0-for-3 with no RBI with the bases loaded. In fact, Notre Dame went 2-for-10 in the opener with runners in scoring position. The Irish also went 1-for-5 with a runner on third base and less than two outs.

Michigan starter Eric Katzman, starting the second consecutive game for the Wolverines, struggled with command early in the first, walking leadoff batter Pollock on four pitches and then hitting sophomore Golden Tate (Hendersonville, Tenn.) with the first pitch as he squared around to bunt. Katzman then punched out senior Jeremy Barnes (Garland, Texas) looking, but proceeded to walk sophomore David Casey (Whitefish Bay, Wisc.) to load the bases with one out. Katzman worked out of the jam by getting Mills to pop out and sophomore Mick Doyle (LaGrange Park, Ill.) to ground out to second.

The Wolverines threatened in the second when Elam walked Kevin Cislo to begin the inning and Crank followed with an infield single, but with runners on the corners and one out, Elam struck out Nick Urban looking and Oaks swinging to end the inning.

Kolby Wood relieved Katzman in the second and escaped a bases loaded, one-out jam when on a full-count pitch, third baseman John Lorenz made a diving stop on a hot smash by Tate, stepped on third, and threw to first to complete the double play and keep the Irish off the board. Six Notre Dame batters reached base safely in the first two innings (two singles, three walks, one hit batter), but the Irish failed to capitalize.

Michigan scored the first run of the game in the fourth inning. Cislo led off with an infield single, and one out later, Elam walked catcher Chris Berset. Urban followed with a ground ball single through the right side to plate Cislo and put the Wolverines up 1-0. Elam escaped further damage by striking out Oaks for the second time and retiring Lorenz on a fly ball to center.

After three of the first four batters he faced reached base, Wood retired seven of the next eight before running into trouble in the fifth. Pollock led off with a first-pitch single to left, stole second, and scampered to third when Berset’s throw skipped into center field. Tate walked to put runners on the corners with no outs. Wood worked out of trouble again, however, as Barnes flew out to left and Casey grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning. It was the third time in the game the Irish had a runner on third with less than two outs and failed to score.

The Wolverines struck again for a single run in the sixth when Crank doubled with one out and came around to score on a two-out single up the middle by Oaks, putting the Wolverines up 2-0.

The Irish finally broke through in the bottom of the sixth. Mills led off the inning with a drag bunt for a single, and Doyle doubled over the head of center fielder Fellows to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Burgoon replaced Wood on the mound and promptly gave up a sacrifice fly to Martin to make the score 2-1. One out later, Sharpley pinch hit and hit a soft line drive up the middle that scored Doyle and tied the game at two. Pollock ripped a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third with two out, but Tate grounded back to Burgoon to end the inning. The seven Irish batters saw just 13 pitches in the inning, as four batters swung at the first pitch.

Tate saw his 11-game hitting streak come to an end (tying Barnes for the longest by an Irish player this season), going 0-for-2 and reaching base on a walk and a hit-by-pitch.

The game was the first on either team’s home field since the 1999 NCAA Regional at Frank Eck Stadium (Michigan won that game, 11-5). The Wolverines have now won four straight in the series.

— ND —