Jayce Vancena’s first start on the mound for the Michigan baseball team since his freshman year was a good one. 

The junior right-hander pitched five innings and earned a win for the Wolverines against Western Michigan on Wednesday, 6-4.

During his freshman year, Vancena started five games and made 17 appearances on the mound. During his sophomore campaign, though, he made just 15 appearances and no starts.

He ended last season with a 5.10 earned-run average and a 2-1 record, but this season has already shown signs of improvement.

“He earned it,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “He’s worked extremely hard, and the game has a funny way of rewarding hard workers. It just seems to happen.”

Entering today’s game, Vancena’s ERA was 1.64 through 11 innings. He opened Wednesday’s contest with a 1-2-3 inning, allowing his defense to field a groundout, lineout and flyout.

The second inning proved more troublesome for the righty. He faced the Broncos most prolific threat on offense in Tanner Allison, who currently is batting .435. Allison started the offense off with a double to center field, and his teammates quickly followed suit.

Jesse Forestell brought Allison home for Western Michigan. Vancena managed to get out of the inning with two strikeouts and a tag between first and second, but that was after the Broncos tacked on two more runs to go up 3-0.

“His fastball was a little up in the zone,” said senior catcher Harrison Wenson. “So what I just tried to tell him was just, ‘Stay within yourself, calm down, fill up the lower part of the zone.’ And that’s what he did.”

Vancena appeared to make the necessary corrections in the following innings, retiring the last nine batters he faced in order.

Fortunately for Vancena, Michigan had an offensive surge in the fourth inning in which it scored four runs, led by Wenson’s double to left field that earned him two RBI.

That rewarded Vancena with a win for an outing in which he threw 65 pitches and four strikeouts. But more impressively, he has yet to walk a batter the entire season.

“We always talk about throwing at the knees,” Vancena said. “That’s something that myself and a lot of our pitchers take pride in, in throwing strikes and throwing down in the zone to make it tough for the hitters to hit.”

With a successful game under his belt, Vancena can be confident he will be seeing the field more. How many starts he will earn is still in question, as it all depends on if he is needed in relief. But as long as he is rested, he proved he can be trusted to go out and try for a second win.

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