Western Michigan centerfielder Tanner Allison hit a liner into the right-field gap to start a scoring barrage that put the Michigan baseball team in a three-run hole in the second inning.
But the Wolverines’ offensive stagnation quickly subsided, and No. 18 Michigan (16-4) scored four runs in the fourth inning to take the lead for good.
“I felt like when they put up three runs it’s no different than being in a fight,” said Michigan coach Erik Bakich. “You take a punch and you just have to get back up and deliver a punch.”
Junior starting pitcher Jayce Vancena took the mound for the Wolverines in what would be a back-and-forth game, ending in a 6-4 victory for Michigan.
Western Michigan pitcher Chris Modrzynski started the game strong, shutting out the Wolverines through the first three innings. Michigan was making solid contact — senior catcher Harrison Wenson lined a bullet to right field in the second inning for an out — but nothing seemed to fall.
In the second inning, Vancena’s outing looked bleak. The Broncos strung together four hits and scored on a fielder’s choice as a result of a pickle between first and second, taking a three-run lead.
The Wolverines were quick to respond, though, as they put their own surge of offense together in the fourth inning. Redshirt sophomore left fielder Miles Lewis started the push with an infield hit. Senior outfielder Johnny Slater walked, and after a passed ball advanced the two runners, Wenson singled to left to score them both.
“We just had to see the ball deep,” Wenson said. “And that’s what we did. We had a big inning there, scored a few runs and turned the game around.”
The last two runs in the inning came from a sacrifice fly from sophomore right fielder Jonathan Engelmann and a single from sophomore second baseman Ako Thomas that brought in Wenson and designated hitter Nick Poirier, respectively.
“That’s what I like about our offense,” Bakich said. “We have multiple ways of scoring. We’re not just a sit-back-and-try-to-hit-home-runs kind of offense.”
Michigan played the small game right, as single runs in the fifth and eighth innings, respectively, extended the lead to three.
Freshman reliever Tommy Henry closed out the game and collected a hard-earned save as he let up one run that was initiated by a bunt for a hit.
The win caps off the Wolverines’ non-conference play as they travel to College Park to face off against Maryland this weekend, a team predicted ahead of Michigan in the Big Ten coaches’ preseason poll. The Wolverines will have to bring their same mentality to throw some punches at the Terrapins if they want to establish themselves in the conference.