Feb. 16, 2014
The University of Minnesota baseball team (3-0) beat Northern Illinois (0-3) 11-5 and recorded a six-run eighth inning on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz. Third baseman Mark Tatera batted 4-for-5 with a run, a triple, a double and five RBI in the win.
This was the Golden Gophers' first sweep of a single-opponent opening weekend since 1998, when they swept Nebraska.
The Gophers fell behind 2-0 early when Justin Fletcher was hit by pitch, Tommy Hook reached on an error and Alex Klonowski, Chris Divarco and Brandon Mallder all hit singles off of Minnesota starter Ben Meyer. Meyer pitched the first four innings of game.
The Gophers took back one run in the bottom of the first. First baseman Dan Olinger walked with one out and scored on a double by Tatera. Olinger also scored in the third to tie the game at 2 when designated hitter Matt Halloran doubled to right field.
Both teams added a run in the fourth to make it 3-3. Joe Battaglia singled and scored on a wild pitch for Northern Illinois, and right fielder Bobby Juan walked and scored for Minnesota on a single by catcher Austin Athmann. Athmann hit 2-for-3 on the afternoon and scored the second time he reached base.
The Huskies took the lead back in the top of the fifth. Starting pitcher Klonowski, who hit 4-for-5 on the day, singled and scored.
The Gophers went ahead for good in the bottom half of the fifth. Second baseman Connor Schaefbauer and shortstop Michael Handel both walked to lead off the inning. Olinger’s sacrifice bunt moved them up a base, and they would go on to score on a Tatera single and take a 6-5 lead off of TJ Schrader, who got the loss.
Minnesota added six more runs in a wild eighth inning that included a leadoff triple and a two-RBI single by Tatera. The Gophers made 12 plate appearances in the inning. Two runners scored on a throwing error to home plate. Outfielder Tony Skjefte and Athmann added singles and Michael Handel drove in a run on a sacrifice fly.
A day after making his first start at third base, Matt Fiedler made his first pitching appearance and got the win. Fiedler pitched 1 2/3 innings, striking out two batters and giving up one run on two hits.
Freshman Toby Anderson pitched for the first time this season, giving up one run in 2 1/3 innings. He was the only Gopher pitcher to retire Klonowski in Sunday's game.
Minnesota will next travel to Fort Myers, Fla., to play a three-game series against Creighton Feb. 21-23.
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10 Gophers honored by league office for outstanding regular seasons on the diamond
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Gophers face No. 8 seed Iowa to open the tournament at Omaha, Neb. on Wednesday at 5 p.m.