OMAHA, NEBRASKA. — As Michigan baseball took their positions before the first game of Friday’s elimination contest against Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament’s unenviable underdog bracket, freshman right-hander Mitch Voight found himself in an unfamiliar place.
The two-way phenom — cataloged as an infielder by jumbotron Charles Schwab Field — has had plenty of memorable moments as both a closer and third baseman, but has never seen his name penciled on a starting pitcher’s card — until the Wolverines’ most productive game their season so far.
And with Voight getting the win on the mound and also registering four base hits, Michigan (28-27 overall, 15-12 Big Ten) shocked Indiana (41-18 overall, 17-10 Big Ten) 13-6 — sending the second-seeded Hoosiers back to Bloomington early and the Wolverines extending their stay in Omaha into the weekend.
In his first trip through the Indiana order, Voight was flawless, registering three strikeouts while winning an 11-inning battle with center fielder Bobby Whalen to mark the three scoreless innings.
And Michigan’s offense — after leaving the Runners in the lead in the first frame — erupted in the bottom half of the third. Senior shortstop Cody Jefferies and senior left fielder Tito Flores worked in tandem to produce the opening run, a pair that continued the scorching hot streak of the Wolverines’ veteran hitting triumvirate at the top of the order. A throwing error scores Flores from first on the next play; Voight helped his own cause with an RBI single through the left field to cap a three-run frame for Michigan.
And then they matched it in the fourth. Junior third baseman Dylan Stanton — in the lineup only because of the hole at third created by Voight’s start — singled; rookie center fielder Jonathan Kim responded with a two-base hit of his own, scoring the fourth run and sparking a Guzier pitching change.
But no matter who is on the mound, the Wolverine bats are unstoppable. A third inning double — Michigan’s ninth hit — this time by senior second baseman Ted Burton extended the lead to six.
Voight then carried that momentum at the plate back to the mound – surpassing the length of his previous season appearance of 3.2 frames, setting new career highs for strikeouts and innings pitched; he threw 63 of his 90 career pitches for hits, sending his team-leading ERA further down to 3.26.
An RBI single by shortstop Philip Glasser ended Voight’s shutout bid in the fifth, but the Wolverines’ offense quickly responded — catalyzed by Voight’s second single of the day — with another single of its own in the bottom of the inning to shore up a six-run cushion. .
After the Hoosiers scored their first of two possible runs in the next frame, Voight walked off the mound in order for the win; his hit came on the defensive front, but he stayed in the game as the designated hitter – collecting two more hits.
But that eventual victory was in jeopardy in the following innings. After two Michigan starters allowed three more runs in the seventh, Wolverines coach Tracy Smith called on senior left-hander Jacob Denner, who had thrown more than 50 pitches less than 48 hours earlier. Danner pitched 2.1 scoreless innings to stop Indiana’s comeback bid — aided by Jefferies’ double in the bottom of the eighth — to secure Michigan’s final 13-6 victory.
In their outstanding triumph in 2023, the Wolverines looked like a desperate team fighting for their season, upsetting a 40-win team — its second straight victory on the brink of relegation. And Voight — whose four hits at the plate doubled his earned runs allowed through nearly six innings on the mound, earning him televised comparisons to Shohei Ohtani — was the most indispensable aspect of that monumental victory.