May 11, 2014
The Golden Gophers earned two walk-off wins in their last home games of the season. Minnesota beat Purdue 6-5 in the completion of Saturday’s suspended game, and won Sunday’s game 4-3. The Gophers swept their series against Purdue to improve to 26-20 overall and 12-9 in Big Ten play. They also clinched a berth in the Big Ten Tournament.
After Tony Skjefte’s home run in the ninth tied the game 5-all, Bobby Juan led off the bottom of the 10th with a towering home run to right to win 6-5.
When Saturday’s weather-delayed game resumed, Minnesota held a 3-2 lead with two outs and two Purdue runners on base in the eighth inning. Dalton Sawyer inherited a 1-1 count on Jeff Evak when play started, and struck him out.
After a scoreless eighth for Minnesota, Sean McHugh hit a three-run home run to give Purdue a 5-3 lead in the ninth. Brandon Krieg walked and Cody Strong hit a single to get on base for McHugh’s fourth homer of the season. McHugh hit 2-for-4 and drove in all five of the Boilermakers’ runs.
Down two with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Gophers’ chances stayed alive with a single to right by Connor Schaefbauer. Skjefte followed with a home run to left to knot the game at 5-all.
Sawyer (5-4) pitched a 1-2-3 10th inning, bringing up Juan to lead off the bottom of the inning. The senior’s fourth home run of the year won the game on Mike Lutz’s (2-7) first pitch of the game.
For the recap of Saturday’s portion of the game, click here.
Despite a strong start from Purdue’s Connor Podkul, the Gophers rallied late for their second walk-off win of the day. Dan Olinger was hit by pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth, and Matt Stemper scored to win 4-3.
Minnesota trailed 3-1 entering its last at bat. Mark Tatera and Matt Fiedler led off the inning with back-to-back base hits. Troy Traxler laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up. Purdue brought in right-hander Joe Eichmann to relieve left-hander Kyle Wood. Stemper walked on four pitches.
With the bases loaded, Motl hit a slicing fly ball to right field. Tatera scored on the play, and Fiedler advanced to third. Purdue brought in the left-hander Tim McElroy to face the left–handed hitting Schaefbauer. On a 1-2 count, Schaefbauer hit a slow roller to first base. Wood fielded the ball, but McElroy did not cover the base in time, allowing Fiedler to score and tie the game. Schaefbauer hit 3-for-4.
With runners on first and third, Skjefte walked to load the bases again. On the very next pitch, McElroy hit Olinger and Stemper scored to win 6-5.
Purdue had taken the first lead of the game. Minnesota starter Neal Kunik only allowed one hit in the first two innings, but ran into trouble in the third. Evak led off the inning with a towering, fly ball triple that hit off the wall in right field. After a Krieg walk, the Boilermakers pulled a squeeze play. Strong placed a bunt down the first baseline, with Evak running on the pitch. The Gophers tried for the out at home, but everyone was safe and Purdue took a 1-0 lead.
Later in the inning, Wood batted in Brandon Krieg for the second run. The next batter, Kyle Johnson, picked up his second hit of the game, driving in McHugh to put Purdue up 3-0.
Purdue starter Connor Podkul cruised through the first six innings allowing only two hits, while striking out six Gophers. After Schaefbauer’s double in the first, the Gophers did not have another base runner until a Tatera walk in the fifth.
Kunik settled down and allowed only one base runner between the fourth and fifth innings. Two walks in the sixth led to a Purdue threat, but a 5-3 double play ended the inning.
To start the sixth, Bergren walked with no outs. Two batters later, Schaefbauer hit his second double of the game, with Bergren taking third. With two outs Olinger walked on a full count to load the bases. Podkul was able to retain his shutout by inducing a groundout.
Brian Glowicki relieved Kunik after the sixth inning. Kunik pitched six innings, allowing six hits and three runs with three walks. Glowicki would go on to pitch 2 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three.
The Gophers broke up the shutout in the seventh inning. After back-to-back no-out singles from Tatera and Fiedler, Purdue removed Podkul from the game in favor of Wood, who moved to the mound from first base. After two quick outs, the Gophers were able to cut the lead to 3-1. Dan Motl reached on a throwing error allowing Tatera to score. Fiedler tried to score from second after the error, but was thrown out at home to end the inning.
Podkul matched his career high in strikeouts at seven. He went six-plus innings, allowing one unearned run on four hits and two walks.
After Minnesota’s ninth-inning comeback, Kevin Kray tallied his third win of the season, having retired the final Purdue batter of the ninth. Eichmann (1-3) took the loss, having walked the winning run.
The Gophers will travel to Bloomington, Indiana, to play the Hoosiers in their final conference series of the regular season. The three games, May 15-17, will all be televised on BTN.
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Around the Bases with Luke Pettersen
After a successful first season with the Gophers, Luke Pettersen enters his sophomore season on campus.