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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Big Ten Tournament: Freshman’s career game lifts Michigan past Indiana in elimination game

Michigan freshman Mitch Voit picked a good day to have a career game.

With the baseball team’s season on the line Friday in a Big Ten Tournament elimination game against No. 2 seed Indiana, first-year head coach Tracy Smith turned to Voit to make his first career start on the mound.

The right-hander Mitch Voit delivered. He pitched a career-high 5 2/3 innings and also had a career-high four hits, leading the sixth-seeded Wolverines to a 13-6 victory at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Big Ten Freshman of the Year allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits while striking out five. Batting fifth, Voit drove in one and scored two runs.

The Wolverines (28-27) advance to face No. 3 seed Iowa, which routed them 13-3 in Tuesday’s tournament opener, at 10 a.m. Saturday. Michigan needs to beat the Hawkeyes twice to advance to Sunday’s Big Ten championship.

“Feeling loose,” Voit said in a Big Ten Network interview after his performance. “Just felt good coming in. Knew the guys would come in and hit. All hands on deck today. It was a good team win.”

Michigan needed his performance on the mound as Indiana (41-18) threatened a comeback in the seventh inning. The Hoosiers plated three to pull to within four and had runners at second and third with two outs. Left-hander Jacob Denner, who pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings in Wednesday’s 6-3 win over Illinois, entered in relief and recorded a strikeout to end the threat.

The Wolverines, who finished with 18 hits, answered with three runs in the bottom of the inning on a bases-clearing double from shortstop Cody Jefferis, who extended his on-base streak to 26 games.

Michigan took advantage of several Indiana fielding woes Friday. It broke through in the third following a one-out walk to Jefferis. He appeared like he was going to be picked off by Indiana lefty Ty Bothwell and was caught in a rundown, but he beat the throw to second base.

Left fielder Tito Flores followed with an RBI-single to extend his hit streak to 19 games. A throwing error led to another Michigan run, and Voit helped his own cause later in the inning, singling in another run.

Voit, who’s previous 18 appearances this season were in relief, didn’t allow a runner to reach scoring position until the fifth, when an RBI single from Phillip Glasser put the Hoosiers on the board. He was pulled in the sixth with two outs and two runners on but lowered his team-best ERA to 3.25.

The 6-foot, 190-pounder was one of several Wolverines with big days at the plate. Dylan Stanton, who was batting .188 in 32 at-bats entering Friday, had four hits to raise his average to .270. Jefferis finished with three hits, a walk and three RBIs.

Friday was the first time Smith, who led Indiana to three NCAA Tournament appearances and a College World Series berth from 2006-14, faced his former school.

The Wolverines will need to win the Big Ten Tournament to earn an NCAA berth.

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