ANN ARBOR - Trailing 5-4 in the fourth inning, the University of Toledo baseball team was in position to upset Michigan on its home field and extend its winning streak to nine games.
But UM senior left-hander Eric Katzman snuffed out any comeback attempt by not allowing a hit in five innings in relief of starter Matt Miller, and the Wolverines held on for the 8-4 victory yesterday in front of 658 fans at Fisher Stadium.
"We got down early but we came back, and it looked like we were going to jump ahead," said Chris Dudics, who finished 2-for-4 with a double for the Rockets (21-10). "But they brought in that soft-tossing lefty, and we couldn't even get a hit after that. We were in it all the way until the end. We just couldn't get hits."
Dudics was the only UT player with more than one hit, but it was Matt Delewski that got the Rockets back into contention.
After Joe Corfman drew a lead-off walk and Jim Vahalik ripped a one-out double down the third-base line, Delewski plated both of them with a shot down the first-base line that made it 5-4.
Katzman (2-1) then entered the game with a 2-0 count against the next hitter, Jeff Cola, and after walking him, Katzman coaxed a pair of pop outs to end the inning.
"We had a little momentum there, but he slowed us down," Delewski said. "He threw some good pitches, and there were some balls we should have hit better."
UM tacked on a pair of insurance runs in the fifth on UT shortstop Jared Hoying's fielding error and another in the seventh on Chris Berset's sacrifice fly to left.
"I thought it was a good game," UT coach Cory Mee said. "You have to give credit to Michigan. They came out and kind of jumped on us early. Our guys did a nice job of fighting back. We had a chance, but there's a hard-hit ball right at Jared and it takes a tough hop on him and then we really couldn't get anything going offensively."
UT put two runners aboard with one out in the ninth, but Tyler Burgoon came on to shut the door by inducing a game-ending double play from pinch hitter Mark Lapikas on a 2-0 count.
"I thought our guys played hard and competed well," Mee said. "Michigan just executed a little bit better than we did today."
The Wolverines didn't take long to get on the board, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning thanks to back-to-back home runs from Ryan LaMarre and Berset. Leadoff hitter Patrick Biondi reached on a bunt single down the first-base line and scored on LaMarre's blast to right field. Berset then took the first pitch he faced from UT starter Cody Umbright (2-1) over the wall in dead center.
UT responded with a run in the second by virtue of Miller's throwing error and two wild pitches that allowed Corfman to score.
But John Lorenz launched a homer to right and Anthony Toth perfectly executed a suicide squeeze in the bottom half of the frame to extend UM's lead to 5-1.
Cola answered in the third with a leadoff homer to right to make it 5-2, but again, UT couldn't produce a larger rally.
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