Skjefte, Freshmen Fuel 6-5 Win over Purdue
May 9, 2014
Matt Fiedler’s two-out RBI single in the eighth lifted the Golden Gophers (24-20, 10-9 Big Ten) to a 6-5 win in the series opener against Purdue. Fiedler notched the first two RBIs of his career, including what would be the game winner.
Fiedler was one of three freshmen with two hits each in the series opener against the Boilermakers (12-33, 5-14 Big Ten) at Siebert Field. Troy Traxler hit 2-for-2 with two runs, and Matt Stemper hit 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. Junior Tony Skjefte was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a run and two RBIs.
Purdue scored first, in the second inning, as Kyle Wood hit his third home run of the season. He crushed a pitch to straightaway center field to give the Boilermakers a 1-0 lead.
After the home run, Purdue loaded the bases with a single, double and hit batter. However, starter Alec Crawford struck out two batters to end the threat.
The Gophers responded in the second with a threat of their own, but did not produce any runs. Tatera and Traxler both singled to right, with Tatera advancing to third. The next batter, Matt Stemper, lined out sharply to the third baseman, who stepped on third for an inning ending double play.
Purdue went ahead 4-0 in the fourth. Jack Picchiotti hit a one-out single, then advanced to second on a Jeff Evak sacrifice bunt. After striking out in his first at-bat, Steve Maniago blasted a double to left-center, scoring Picchiotti. Brandon Krieg then tacked on two runs with a home run to left field. Crawford retired eight Boilermakers in a row after Krieg’s home run.
The Gophers joined the scoring in the bottom of the fourth. Skjefte led off with a ground-rule double. Dan Olinger plated Skjefte with an RBI single to make it 4-1.
After retiring Purdue in order in the fifth, the Gophers tied the game at 4-all. Minnesota knocked out another leadoff double, this time off the bat of Traxler. Stemper hit him in with a single in the next at-bat. With one out, Dan Motl reached first on an infield single that advanced Stemper to third. Connor Schaefbauer reached on a fielder’s choice. With runners on first and third, Skjefte hit his second double of the day, this time picking up two RBI.
The Gophers took their first lead an inning later. Boilermakers starter Jordan Minch walked Traxler with two outs. Stemper followed with his third hit of the night for his second three-hit game this season. Then Fiedler ripped a single, scoring Traxler and putting the Gophers up 5-4.
Purdue countered in the top of the seventh. Krieg singled up the middle and then scored from first after a two-out, RBI double from Sean McHugh. Dalton Sawyer relieved Crawford and stranded McHugh to end the inning.
Crawford’s final line was 6 2/3 innings pitched, allowing nine hits and five earned runs, while striking out six with no walks. For Purdue, Minch pitched to a tune of six innings, 11 hits and five earned runs, with a walk and two strikeouts.
The Gophers reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the eighth. Tatera milked a walk off of reliever Mike Lutz. After entering the game in left field, Jordan Smith chopped a ball high past the pitcher and before the shortstop, who was covering for a hit-and-run. Then Fiedler delivered his second RBI single of the day, scoring Tatera.
Sawyer (3-3) retired the side in the ninth and picked up the win after pitching 2 1/3 innings of one-hit, scoreless ball. Lutz (2-6) took the loss for Purdue.
The Gophers will take on Purdue again Saturday at 6:05 p.m. Ben Meyer (4-3) will start for the Gophers, and Gavin Downs (2-5) for Purdue. Minnesota will celebrate the anniversary of the 1964 NCAA Championship team.