April 27, 2007
LANSING, Mich. - Featuring two of the top starting pitchers in the Big Ten, the first game of the Michigan-Michigan State series appeared to be set for a pitching duel. Craig Brookes entered the game with a 1.77 ERA for MSU, while Zach Putnam for U of M features a fastball in the mid-90s. The offense was on display Friday night, however, as the league-leading Wolverines held off the Spartans, 11-8, before over 1,500 fans at Oldsmobile Park. No. 20 Michigan slugged out 16 hits and MSU collected 12 in the losing effort.
The Wolverines (27-8) scored three quick runs off Brookes in the first inning, led by Putnam's two-run single. MSU bounced right back with four runs in the bottom half of the inning to go up, 4-3. Two freshmen made the difference for the Spartans - in their first career at-bats against Michigan, Chris Roberts delivered an RBI single, while Eli Boike blasted a three-run homer to deep right field, his second of the season.
MSU couldn't keep the lead for long, as Michigan responded with two runs in the second. Putnam added two more RBIs in the fourth with another single, giving U of M a 7-4 advantage. Jason Christian knocked out Brookes in the sixth with his third hit of the game, and he later scored his fourth run to make it 8-4. Michigan added an unearned run in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, MSU rallied for four runs on four hits. Evan Friedland, who tied a season high with three hits, notched an infield single, and went to second on a Dennis Jones infield single. With runners on first and second, Coach David Grewe called the hit-and-run, and Brandon Doherty delivered with a single to the left side of the infield, plating Friedland. An errant throw on the same play by Wolverine left fielder Kenny Fellows brought home Jones, cutting the margin to 9-6. Kyle Day drove home Doherty with a single up the middle, and Day came around to score from third on a wild pitch, making it a one-run game at 9-8.
Michigan extended its lead to 11-8 with two insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Sean Walker nailed a one-out double, his second of the game, down the left-field line in the bottom of the ninth, but that's all the Spartans would get as Michael Powers collected his third save of the season.
Putnam, who went 3-for-5 at the plate with five RBIs, also picked up his fifth win of the season on the mound. Although the Spartans hit Putnam (5-3) hard, collecting nine hits and eight runs off the power right-hander, the sophomore still struck out nine in his 6.1 innings.
Brookes (3-4) took the loss, giving up seven runs and 10 hits in 5.0 innings of action.
The four-game series shifts to Ann Arbor for a doubleheader Saturday afternoon, with game one beginning at 1:05 p.m. at Ray Fisher Stadium. Both games will be shown live on Comcast Local.