April 4, 2014
The University of Minnesota (16-9, 4-3 Big Ten) baseball team opened its series at Michigan with a 9-6, 11-inning victory.
Third baseman Tony Skjefte hit 3-for-5 and walked with the bases loaded in the 11th to allow the go-ahead run to score. He had 3 RBI and a double on a windy, rainy day in Ann Arbor.
The Golden Gophers had a 5-0 lead at one time, but the Wolverines (13-6-1, 3-4 Big Ten) came back to tie the game 6-6 in the eighth.
Minnesota had 11 hits to Michigan's nine, and the Wolverines committed two errors that both cost them runs.
Skjefte scored Minnesota's first run in the third inning. He singled through the left side and advanced to second on center fielder Jordan Smith's walk. Skjefte then ran to third on a wild pitch and scored when the catcher's throw sailed into the outfield.
The Gophers broke the game open in the fourth. First baseman Dan Olinger's one-out double to the right field corner started the rally. Designated hitter Troy Traxler walked, then left fielder Jake Bergren singled through the right side to load the bases.
Second baseman Connor Schaefbauer drew a walk to score Olinger. A Skjefte grounder down the first base line to the pitcher drove in Traxler. Then Smith's single through the right side scored the remaining two baserunners to give Minnesota a 5-0 lead.
The Wolverines struck back in the bottom of the inning. Gophers starter Alec Crawford had retired the first nine batters in order, but Travis Maezes broke up the streak with a leadoff single to center. Jacob Cronenworth and Kendall Patrick's singles and Kyle Jusick's double, as well as an RBI groundout by Jackson Glines, contributed to an inning that cut the Gophers' lead to 5-3.
Minnesota made it 6-3 in the sixth when Schaefbauer singled, stole second and scored on Skjefte's double.
Crawford started the eighth inning, but came out in favor of Dalton Sawyer after allowing a walk and a single with one out. Kyle Jusick drew a walk, then a wild pitch allowed Cronenworth to score. Carmen Benedetti cleared the bases with a game-tying double.
Michigan had a chance to end the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Sawyer pitched out of a jam. Jacobson walked to lead off the inning, and his pinch runner, Zach Zott, advanced to second on a passed ball. After a grounder moved Zott to third, the Gophers intentionally walked the next two batters to load the bases.
Schaefbauer fielded a grounder and threw to catcher Mark Tatera for the second out. Then Saywer struck out Trey Miller to force extra innings.
After both teams went down in order in the 10th, the Gophers scored three in the 11th. Traxler reached base on a throwing error. Singles by left fielder Jake Bergren and Schaefbauer loaded the bases. Skjefte took a walk that scored Traxler, then right fielder Bobby Juan singled to right to add two more runs.
Sawyer (2-0) finished the game and earned the win after pitching 3 2/3 innings and giving up one run. The other five runs went to Crawford. Cronenworth (2-1), who had played third and first before the Wolverines called him in to pitch, took the loss after giving up three unearned runs. Michigan starter Ben Ballantine and reliever Brett Adcock allowed the other six.
Minnesota and Michigan will play the second game of the series at 1 p.m. CDT Friday at the Wilpon Complex.
*This was the Gophers' longest game of the season, as their previous extra-inning games ended in 10. Minnesota is now 4-0 in extra-inning games.
*Schaefbauer is now 9-for-9 on stolen base attempts this season.
*The run allowed by Sawyer was the first earned run he let in all season. He has pitched 20 2/3 innings.
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