MINNEAPOLIS – The Gopher Baseball team rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a tie and earn a 5-3 victory over Omaha on Tuesday night at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Omaha (4-8) scored first, stringing together three hits and a walk in the top of the first against right-hander Joshua Culliver, but Minnesota (9-4) had a quick answer in the bottom of the second. Jordan Kozicky and Max Meyer singled to start the inning, with Kozicky scoring on a sacrifice fly by Ben Mezzenga. Eli Wilson’s one-out double put runners on second and third before a balk was called against Mavericks starter Jake Pennington, bringing home the game-tying run. Wilson would then come in to score on a ground ball off the bat of Jack Wassel, who made first start of the season for the Gophers.
Culliver settled down after the first, striking out four on the day as he worked 5.1 innings. Jeff Fasching took over on the mound with a runner on and one away in the sixth, getting a double play to escape the inning. He finished his day while striking out one in 2.1 innings, allowing one hit to the Mavericks’ Cole Thibodeau. He would steal second with right-hander Jackson Rose (2-0) on the mound and eventually come around to score the first run of the season charged to Fasching and tie the game at 3-3.
“I didn’t feel like I had my best stuff out there,” Fasching said after the game. “I struggled a little with my breaking ball command in the bullpen. I told Eli that on the mound, and I just tried to locate my fastball and get some outs that way.”
Rose struck out the next batter looking, and Minnesota’s offense took control from there. Max Meyer led off the bottom of the eighth with a single, advancing to second on a sacrifice and coming around to score on Wilson’s second double of the day. He then came in to score on a single by Cole McDevitt, who had pinch hit earlier in the game and then played first.
Meyer then moved from designated hitter to the mound in the ninth, striking out two in a clean inning to pick up the third save of his rookie season.
“He’s learning how to put together good at-bats at this level. It seems like each game, his at-bats get a little better. His approach is a little better. His timing is better. The hard part is that if you put him in the DH spot, you can’t take him out if you want to use him at the end of the game. He’s swinging the bat okay for us. He’s earning an opportunity to continue to do that for us” – John Anderson on his freshman designated hitter/relief pitcher Max Meyer
Eli Wilson hit two doubles for the first time in his career … Culliver’s 5.1 innings represented a career high, as did his four strikeouts.
Minnesota continues its stay at U.S. Bank Stadium on Wednesday as the Gophers host Milwaukee in Minneapolis. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m. Single-game tickets, season tickets, and group ticket packages are available for all 2018 Gopher Baseball games.
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