April 25, 2014
Alec Crawford struck out a career-high nine batters as the University of Minnesota (20-17, 7-9 Big Ten) baseball team won its first night game at new Siebert Field. Minnesota defeated Penn State (17-21, 5-7 Big Ten) 2-1 in the teams’ series opener.
Crawford (4-1) gave up six hits, one run and three walks in a career-long eight-inning start. All nine batters he struck out went down swinging.
Penn State loaded the bases with no one out in the second, but Crawford struck out two batters and induced a grounder to end the inning unscathed. In the bottom of the inning, freshman Austin Athmann hit his first career home run to put Minnesota up 1-0.
The Nittany Lions tied the game in the third. Jim Haley hit a single through the right side and advanced to second on a grounder. J.J. White’s single through the left side drove Haley home.
Minnesota took the lead back for good in the fourth. Dan Olinger led off with a double past Penn State’s diving center fielder. He moved to third on a grounder, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Mark Tatera.
Dalton Sawyer earned his sixth save, pitching the ninth inning. After Aaron Novak started the inning with a single, Ryan Richter popped up a bunt attempt. Sawyer caught it and threw to second baseman Connor Schaefbauer, who was covering first. Schaefbauer tagged Novak for the second out. Sawyer then struck out pinch hitter Tyler Kendall to end the game.
Nittany Lions starter Tim Dunn (2-1) pitched all eight innings. He gave up just five hits and a walk, but took the loss after being out-dueled by Crawford.
Schaefbauer hit 2-for-4 for the Gophers, his 14th multiple-hit effort of the season. White went 2-for-3 and Haley went 2-for-4 for Penn State.
Before the game, a lighting ceremony welcomed a new era to the Gophers’ ballpark. Local sports media personality Sid Hartman flipped a ceremonial light switch. Hartman, head coach John Anderson, athletics director Norwood Teague and Dr. Dan Courneya of the Foundation for Minnesota Baseball made remarks on the field.
Minnesota and Penn State are scheduled to play their second game of the series at 6:05 p.m. Saturday.
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