April 1, 2012
Matt Halloran hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th inning to help the University of Minnesota baseball team to a 4-3 win and a series sweep over Michigan, today at the H.H.H. Metrodome. On a 1-0 count, Halloran lifted the ball over the right-field wall for his first career home run and the win. With the extra-inning heroics, the Gophers improve to 16-13 the season (3-0 in the Big Ten) and have won seven-straight games.
The three-straight wins over a Big Ten Conference team at home marks the first series sweep since Iowa in 2009. Halloran's home run is also the first Gopher walk-off home run since Michael Kvasnicka accomplished the feat on February 21, 2010.
On the day, Halloran went 3-5 had a RBI and scored two runs. In his three hits, two were extra bases with a double and a single. David Bettenburg went 2-4 with a run scored, Michael Handel was 1-3 with a RBI and Matt Puhl went 1-4 with a RBI.
Minnesota used five pitchers in the win. Austin Lubinsky held the no-decision. He went 6.0 innings pitched, allowed one earned run, scattered five hits, walked two and struck out four. Dustin Klabunde, Ben Meyer, Tom Windle and Drew Ghelfi all saw action. Ghelfi was credited with the win and improves to 3-0 this season.
Minnesota took the early lead when it pushed two across in the second and another in the third for the 3-0 lead. Handel had a stand-up double that scored Bettenburg from second, who singled earlier in the inning. Puhl plated Handel with a RBI single, his 12th RBI of the season. Minnesota then added to the lead when Halloran doubled off the right field baggie and would later score on a throwing error by Michigan pitcher Ben Ballantine to put the game at 3-0.
Michigan however, came back with a run in the fifth and two in the seventh to tie the game at 3-3. The Wolverines loaded the bases with no outs when Dylan Delany doubled, John DiLaura singled, followed by a Patrick Biondi hit by pitch. Meyer came into the game with the bases loaded and had Will Drake hit into a costly 6-4-3 double play to get two outs, but put the game at 3-2. After a base hit to Michael O'Neill to score the tying run, he was called out on a Halloran-Puhl second-base steal attempt to end the inning.
Minnesota wiggled its way out of a jam in the top of the 10thand kept the game tied, 3-3. After a leadoff walk and a bunt single to put two on, Michigan bunted the runners over to put two in scoring position as Ghelfi came into the game. After he intentionally walked Coley Crank to load the bases with one out, Ghelfi got John Lorenz to hit a grounder to Handel as he and Puhl turned what-needed-to-be perfect double play to get Lorenz out at first.
With one out in the bottom of the 10th and Halloran ahead in the count, 1-0, he lifted the ball to right for the home run. The ball just went over the top of the baggie and into the seats for his first career homer. It was Minnesota's sixth home run of the season and second of the weekend. Bobby Juan hit an inside-the-park home run against the Wolverines on Friday.
Minnesota will look to continue its winning trend as Augsburg plays the Gophers Tuesday night at 6:35 p.m. The game against the Auggies will end the Gophers' 27-game homestand. Minnesota will then return to Big Ten Conference competition when it plays Ohio State, April 6-8 in Columbus, Ohio. The Gophers and Buckeyes will play at 6:35 p.m. CT Friday, 3:05 p.m. CT Saturday and 11:05 a.m. Sunday. The Sunday match-up will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
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