April 6, 2014
The University of Minnesota (17-10, 5-4 Big Ten) baseball team beat Michigan 3-1 Sunday in Ann Arbor to win the series 2-1. A few timely hits and key defensive plays gave the Golden Gophers the edge over the Wolverines (14-17-1, 4-5 Big Ten) in the series finale.
Michigan scored first after a leadoff double by Kyle Jusick in the second inning. He advanced to third on a single by Cole Martin, then scored on a sacrifice fly by Carmen Benedetti.
Minnesota took advantage of a misplay to tie the game in the next inning. Center fielder Dan Motl swung at a third strike from left-hander Trent Szkutnik, but the catcher dropped the ball, missed the tag and overthrew first base. Motl reached second on the error. Second baseman Connor Schaefbauer then doubled down the left line to drive in Motl’s run.
The Gophers took a 3-1 lead in the fourth. First baseman Dan Olinger lined a single to right center to lead off. Shortstop Michael Handel drew a 3-2 walk. With one out, designated hitter Troy Traxler hit a ground-rule double to the right field corner to score Olinger. Right fielder Bobby Juan hit a bloop single to center to score Handel.
Two outstanding defensive plays in the fifth inning helped the Gophers keep their 3-1 lead. Martin led off with an infield single. Then Benedetti lined a single to right. Martin tried to take third on the play, but Juan threw him out at the base. After a single by Eric Jacobson gave the Wolverines two baserunners, Motl made a diving catch of Travis Maezes’ fly ball to end the inning.
Minnesota again got out of a jam in the eighth inning. Two runners reached base with one out before Dalton Sawyer relieved starter Ben Meyer. A single in the next at bat loaded the bases. The Gophers then turned a 4-6-3 double play to preserve the two-run lead and end the inning.
The Gophers had a chance to add to their lead in the ninth after Traxler walked, catcher Mark Tatera was hit by pitch and pinch hitter Jake Bergren bunted for a single. But after Minnesota loaded the bases, Michigan got the final two outs.
Sawyer pitched the ninth to earn his fifth save of the season. Meyer, who pitched 7 1/3 innings, got the win to improve to 3-2 on the year. He gave up six hits and one walk and struck out three batters.
Szkutnik (0-4) took the loss after giving up all three runs (two earned) and seven hits. He struck out five and walked two.
The Gophers will play at South Dakota State on Wednesday, April 9 before returning to Siebert Field to host Nebraska in a series April 11-13.
Around the Bases with Matt Fiedler
Junior Matt Fiedler has been all over the diamond early in his Gophers career.
Around the Bases with Jeff Fasching
Jeff Fasching, a sophomore pitcher, tossed eight innings of relief for the Gophers last season.
Around the Bases with Luke Pettersen
After a successful first season with the Gophers, Luke Pettersen enters his sophomore season on campus.