The University of Minnesota scored a run in the first, three in the fifth and five in the seventh for a 9-2 victory over Western Michigan, today at the H.H.H. Metrodome. With the win, the Golden Gophers took three of the four games and improve to 4-3 on the season.
Jordan Jess collected his first win of the year when he went a career-high 6.0 innings pitched. Jess also established a career-high seven strikeouts, allowed one run and walked one. Kevin Kray finished the game and picked up the save. He allowed one run on two hits and five strikeouts. Troy Larson led the Gopher hitters when he went 3-4 with two doubles, scored two runs and web gem defensive plays in center field. Ryan Abrahamson was 2-4 with three RBI, while Andy Henkemeyer was 2-4 with two runs scored.
Jess already established three of his seven strikeouts in the first when he struck out the side (two swinging and one looking). Michael Handel put Minnesota on the board when he drove in Matt Halloran from second when he reached base on a stand up double. Western Michigan countered in the top of the third when Theo Piccirilli delivered a RBI single to score Jared Kujawa from third.
The two teams remained at 1-1 until Minnesota pushed across three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Larson led the inning with a double to right field, while Abrahamson followed suit with a long drive to left. The umpire ruled the hit off the top of the fence for a double as Larson came in score. Henkemeyer switched spots with Abrahamson to score him from second bringing the Gopher lead to 3-1. Minnesota didn’t stop there as Halloran hit a shallow blooper to center to score Henkemeyer to make it 4-1 after the fifth.
The Gophers cushioned their lead when they plated five in the bottom of the seventh. A double from Dan Olinger would score Henkemeyer, who led off the inning with a single and stole second. Handel earned his second RBI of the game to score Olinger. Pinch hitter Kurt Schlangen drove in Handel with a single to right, while Larson hit his second double of the game to put two on with runners in scoring position. Abrahamson added a single, bringing home both Schlangen and Larson for a 9-1 lead.
The Broncos got a run back in the top of the ninth when Drew Farmer led off the inning with a triple and came home to score on a Vinnie Booker sacrifice fly. However, the Gopher lead was too much for WMU as they finished the game with back-back strikeouts from closer Kray.
Western Michigan utilized four pitchers in the Sunday afternoon match-up. Starter David Brennan had five hits, four runs and five strike outs in the 5.1 innings pitched. Also seeing action was Monty Porter, Pat Haynes, and Gabe Berman.
Minnesota continues the homestand, Wednesday, Feb. 27, against North Dakota State University. Start time is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.