In the bottom of the first inning, freshman centerfielder Patrick Biondi halted in the middle of the base path, anxiously watching the ball that junior leftfielder Ryan LaMarre had just launched deep to right.

After a few seconds of indecision, Biondi slowly turned and began the jog to home. LaMarre had just hit his first home run of the season, and Michigan took the first lead of the game 2-0.

And the Wolverines (4-2 Big Ten, 19-11 overall) would never lose that lead, rolling to an 8-4 victory over Toledo on Tuesday afternoon.

Michigan capitalized on the wind blowing out to right field, hitting three long balls on the afternoon. After LaMarre’s round-tripper, senior catcher Chris Berset added one of his own off the black extension in center.

It was the Wolverines’ first back-to-back jacks since LaMarre and then-junior first baseman Mike Dufek accomplished the feat Feb. 20 of last season against Jacksonville State. Sophomore third baseman John Lorenz added a solo shot of his own in the second inning of yesterday’s game.

Berset added another RBI on a sacrifice fly in the seventh to finish with two on the day. He said he was thrilled to match LaMarre, as he had to keep step in their friendly rivalry.

“There’s always that (trash) talk, because he came back and he missed all these games and he comes in and takes my ‘three’ spot,” Berset said. “I wasn’t too happy about that. He had to make up for it, but he sure enough did. He’s playing great right now.”

While the Wolverines held a 5-2 lead going into the fourth, the Rockets (8-1 MAC, 21-10 overall) made things interesting. Toledo scored two runs in the top of the frame to chase Michigan’s starting pitcher, junior right-hander Matt Miller, off the mound after just 3.1 innings.

But senior left-hander Eric Katzman relieved Miller and proved more than ready to answer the call.

The Harrington Park, N.J. native was coming off his worst appearance of the year when he started at Indiana April 4, lasting just 0.2 innings before getting the hook. He rebounded Tuesday, tossing five hitless innings and shutting down the Rockets’ potent offense into the ninth.

“They got a lot of left-handed hitters and my thing, my M.O., is that I’m good against left-handed hitters,” Katzman said. “That’s why I went in there. Coach (Rich Maloney) told me before the game you’re the first one in. I just mixed it up and changed speeds and was able to go.”

And Maloney was pleased with his southpaw’s performance.

“Very encouraging,” Maloney said. “We need some guys to step up. We had (sophomore right-hander Brandon) Sinnery on Sunday, and Katzman today, and hopefully we can keep (getting) some different guys. That’s what you need to have.”

Toledo came in hot, riding an eight-game winning streak and not having lost since a tough 4-3 result against Ohio State on March 31. The Rockets also had a better record and a better RPI than the Wolverines (80 to 82), meaning they potentially could have been considered the favorite to win the contest.

But Michigan — winners of 13 of its last 15 games — had also played well recently, and certainly didn’t appear to be the underdog in its decisive victory.

“Great win,” Berset said. “Great pitching and everything, great defense, great win. We came out and swung the bats and we needed to. Toledo’s a good team. It was a great win.”

Biondi breaks it: With 19 stolen bases, Biondi came in tied for the freshman single-season record mark with Bruce Fox, who reached that number in 1955.

With his swipe of second base in the first inning, Biondi broke the mark to take sole possession of first place. He added another steal the next inning to give him 21 for the year, breaking the tie for 10th-place all time in a single season.

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