With the game tied, 2-2, sophomore shortstop Michael Handel hit the game-winning home run and added an insurance RBI to help the University of Minnesota baseball team to a 4-2 comeback win over North Dakota State, tonight at the H.H.H. Metrodome. With the win, the Golden Gophers improve to 5-3 this season and three-straight wins.
Handel hit his solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning and went 2-4 on the night with a run scored. Andy Henkemeyer and Tony Skjefte also drove in the other two Gopher runs.
North Dakota State got on the board early when it plated two unearned runs in the top of the first. After a Gopher error, a sacrifice bunt and a walk, Kirk Kenneally doubled to drive in both Tim Colwell and Jon Hechtner for an early 2-0 lead.
The NDSU lead would hold until the bottom of the fifth when Minnesota responded with two runs of its own to tie the game. Alex LaShomb led off the inning when he singled and was replaced by pinch runner Canakes. After a wild pitch to advance Canakes to second, Ryan Abrahamson singled to put runners on the corners. Skjefte plated Canakes with a base hit up the middle for the first Gopher run. Henkemeyer followed with a double to left and pushed across Abrahamson to tie the game.
The next inning, Handel belted out Minnesota's first home of the season to put the game at 3-2. Handel hit his third collegiate home run, first of the year, into the left field seats. He added another RBI in the bottom of the eighth. Kurt Schlangen hit a single to left and came across to score on Handel's RBI stand-up double.
The four runs would be all the Gopher pitching corps would need as they combined for two unearned runs. Kyle O'Shea started the game and pitched three innings, allowed two unearned runs and struck out two in 10 batters he faced. Dalton Sawyer came into the game and pitched 2.2 innings and had five strikeouts. Drew Ghelfi picked up his first win of the 2013 campaign when he went 1.1 inning, allowed a hit, walk and had one strikeout. Ty McDevitt also pitched an inning (no hits, one walk), while Billy Soule collected his second save of the year when he closed the door in the ninth.
Minnesota hosts the 29th-annual Dairy Queen Classic, March 1-3, at the Dome. The Gophers welcome Dartmouth, Northern Illinois and Utah to the tournament. Minnesota starts the tourney against Dartmouth Friday (6:35 p.m.), Utah on Saturday (6:35 p.m.) and Northern Illinois on Sunday (3:05 p.m.).