Up three early in the second inning, the Michigan baseball team had put itself in a tough position. With one out, junior right-hander Ahmad Harajli walked an Xavier batter, loading the bases. It could’ve crumpled under the pressure or stepped up to establish itself early in the game. A 6-4-3 double play on a ground ball put the Musketeers away and set the standard going forward for the Wolverines.
In its tune-up game leading into its first home weekend series, Michigan (7-9 Overall) defeated Xavier (7-9), 7-3, behind its supporting pitchers who stranded ten Musketeer runners on base.
“Anytime you go on the road and pick up a win it’s good,” Michigan coach Tracy Smith said. “… I thought it was one of our most solid, all around games to date.”
After a scoreless first inning from both sides, the Wolverines hit their stride in the second, scoring off an RBI double from graduate first baseman Jack Van Remortel. Michigan piled on the runs directly after, with freshman center fielder Jonathan Kim hitting his first collegiate home run, bringing Van Remortel home in the process.
Along with the offensive explosion, clutch pitching started to have a clear impact. By the end of the three-run second inning, the Musketeers had already left four runners on base.
“It’s really good, it means our pitchers are able to get right,” Kim said. “They bear down when we need them to.”
Xavier stranded nine of the ten runners it left on base in the first five innings, seeing plenty of chances to strike back but failing to convert. Michigan’s pitching put itself into numerous jams, having two and three runners on base at multiple times in the early innings, but they continually came through to keep the Musketeers down.
“We pitched around some garbage on the bases,” Smith said. “That shows to me that’s indicative of the guy’s maturing, not getting caught up about what’s going on out there.”
In the third and fourth innings, Michigan’s bats continued to bring the heat. After sophomore designated hitter Joe Longo hit his first career home run, making it 4-0 in the third, the fourth inning helped the Wolverines pull away. Freshman third baseman Mitch Voit hit his first career home run – the third of the day – and graduate shortstop Cody Jefferis hit a ball up the middle for an RBI, digging Xavier into a deep 6-0 hole.
Michigan added one more in the sixth inning, as Van Remortel added a home run of his own.
Despite the ability to hold the Musketeers off in the early innings, Xavier added one run on a home run in the seventh inning and a two-run shot in the ninth, making the score 7-3.
The home run in the ninth threatened a two-out rally for the Musketeers, but Voit closed the door with a foul out to secure the win.
Coming off of a six game losing streak that included a home loss to Oakland, Michigan needed to respond. With three wins in their last four games, the Wolverines have started to do just that.
“These guys have been very resilient.” Smith said. “They don’t quit … so it’s nice to see (them) get a positive result.”
Resiliency is what the Wolverines’ pitching staff showed against Xavier when under pressure with runners on base, not bending under the pressure in its most pivotal moments to secure the win.