Gophers Complete Sweep of Penn State

Go Gophers! Kunik has pitched 13 shutout innings as a starter.
Go Gophers!
Kunik has pitched 13 shutout innings as a starter.
Go Gophers!

April 26, 2014

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The University of Minnesota (22-16, 9-9 Big Ten) shut out Penn State in both games of a Saturday doubleheader against Penn State to sweep the series. All three of the Golden Gophers’ starting pitchers set season or career highs in strikeouts against the Nittany Lions (17-23, 5-9 Big Ten), and the pitching staff as a whole surrendered just one run in the series at Siebert Field.

Game 1: Gophers 4, Penn State 0 – Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

Ben Meyer pitched eight scoreless innings in the first game of the doubleheader. He struck out a season-high eight batters, walked one and gave up eight hits while improving his record to 4-2. Toby Anderson finished the game for the Gophers, pitching a scoreless ninth.

The Gopher offense gave Meyer early run support when a bases-loaded double by Connor Schaefbauer put them ahead 3-0 in the second. Jordan Smith singled, Jake Bergren was hit by pitch and Dan Motl hit an infield single to load the bases for Schaefbauer’s two-out hit.

Minnesota tacked on a run in the fourth. Bergren hit a single to left, and Dan Motl drove him in with a single to short.

T.J. Jann (1-6) pitched all eight innings for Penn State, facing just one more than the minimum amount of batters after the fourth. He gave up 11 hits. The Nittany Lions tallied nine hits on the game.

Schaefbauer hit 3-for-4, his first three-hit game of his career. He has recorded multiple hits in 15 of Minnesota’s games this year. Tony Skjefte and Jordan Smith each hit 2-for-4, and Motl hit 2-for-3.

Game 2: Gophers 12, Penn State 0 – Box Score Get Acrobat Reader

The Gophers poured on seven runs on seven hits in the first inning of the nightcap. Overall, eleven different Minnesota batters recorded at least one in the team’s season-high total of 19. Twelve runs were more than enough run support for Neal Kunik, who struck out nine, walked three and scattered three hits in seven innings.

Kunik tripled his previous career high of three strikeouts. He struck out the side in both the third and sixth innings. Saturday was only Kunik’s second start of his career.

Dan Olinger and Michael Handel each hit 3-for-5. Bobby Juan hit 3-for-4 with his third home run of the season. Bergren and Motl each notched two hits. Schaefbauer, Handel and Smith drove in two runs apiece.

A dozen Gophers batted in the first inning against Dakota Forsyth (1-6). Skjefte was hit by pitch before back-to-back hits by Olinger and Handel. Juan walked. With two outs, five consecutive Gophers hit singles. Smith, Bergren, Motl, Schaefbauer and Skjefte all hit safely before the first inning ended with a 7-0 Minnesota lead.

The Gophers added three unearned runs in the fourth. Skjefte reached on a two-out throwing error, and Motl scored on the play. Back-to-back RBI singles by Olinger and Handel knocked in two more runs.

Juan’s home run to right led off the sixth. Mark Tatera came up next and doubled down the left line. He scored on a Motl single to make the lead 12-0.

Matt Stemper and Troy Traxler had pinch-hit singles during the ballgame. Minnesota had one error along with its 19 hits. The Gophers also had 19 hits at Saint Mary’s in March. Penn State had four hits and three errors.

The series sweep was Minnesota’s first in conference play this season. It was also the Gophers’ third Big Ten series win.

The Gophers are scheduled to host St. Thomas on Wednesday, April 30 before traveling to Florida State for a series May 2-4.