Graduate transfer catcher Griffin Mazur turned on a first-pitch fastball and lifted it deep to left-field. The ball cleared the high wall in left field easily, a three-run no-doubter to break open the game and give Michigan a dominant 9-2 lead in the fourth inning.
The Michigan baseball team (24-12 Big Ten) used a productive and balanced offensive day to defeat No. 21 Indiana (23-11) on Friday, 10-3.
Redshirt sophomore left-hander Steve Hajjar started on the mound and gave the Wolverines a strong start, allowing three runs over 6.1 innings of work while collecting eight strikeouts on 113 pitches.
“Steve today really competed hard as he always does for us, does kind of whatever it takes to win the game, as usual,” Mazur said. “He had the slider working a lot better today, mixed well and made big pitches when we needed him to. He settled down after the first few innings and just attacked them with fastballs. Steve’s always just competing his butt off for the team — that’s what he does.”
After sophomore infielder Ted Burton launched a home run over the monster in left to open the scoring in the second inning, Indiana struck back in the third. A two-out bloop with the bases loaded fell into left-center just in front of the diving sophomore outfielder Tito Flores and brought home two runs to give the Hoosiers a 2-1 lead.
But Michigan broke through with a big inning in the bottom of the third. The Wolverines loaded the bases for Mazur, who came through with an RBI single to even the score at 2-2. This hit chased Indiana ace Tommy Sommer from the game after just 2.1 innings and brought up graduate transfer infielder Benjamin Sems.
“Part of our game plan was to try to get to the (bull)pen,” Hajjar said. “All the credit in the world to the offense for being able to do that. So that was huge when (Sommer) came out, knowing how good of a pitcher he is and the season he’s put together. I think that allowed everybody to sort of take a deep breath and feel like we can be a little bit more free out there, playing with a lead.”
Sems kept the rally going with a soft flare over the shortstop into left to score one and take the lead, 3-2. The Wolverines kept the station-to-station rally going, as Burton followed with an RBI single to right to plate another and push the lead to 4-2, setting the stage for Flores.
Flores delivered. He lined a fastball into left-center and scored two, pushing the score to 6-2. The five-run inning was a massive momentum shift in the game, putting Michigan in control of the game.
“We have a threat in the order one through nine,” Hajjar said. “Any guy that gets up there, we all have full confidence that they’re going to get the job done. And you see that day in and day out, where it doesn’t matter if it’s the bottom of the lineup, we’re gonna get production out of everybody.”
After Mazur’s blast to open the game up, redshirt junior Isaiah Paige saw the game out from there. Paige took over for Hajjar in the seventh, allowing one inherited run to score on a sac fly but getting out of the inning after that.
Paige worked a clean eighth, then got the job done to retire the Hoosiers in the ninth — throwing 2.2 innings in total.
The Wolverines were led offensively by Mazur — who reached base three times and drove in four — and Flores, who picked up three hits. Burton chipped in with two hits and Sems added two hits on the day as well while sophomore outfielder Clark Elliott tacked on an insurance run in the eighth with a solo blast to right.
“Their starting pitching is excellent. Our guys did a good job, one through nine, to have good at-bats,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “Whether it was being ready to hit early in the count or spoiling some pitches and just trying to get to the next guy, whatever it was, I thought our hitters did a good job applying a lot of pressure.”
Michigan got off to a very strong start this weekend, as it picked up a critical win against the Big Ten frontrunner in Indiana.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us in these coming days,” Bakich said. “But I was very pleased with our approach and our execution today.”