Andy Henkemeyer had three hits, including the game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Ben Meyer improved to 5-4 after pitching four scoreless innings as the Gophers rallied to beat Illinois, 3-2, in the Big Ten Baseball Tournament at Target Field.
Minnesota advances to play No. 1-seed Indiana at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday.
Illinois got on the board in the top of the second when it plated two and took an early 2-0 lead. After Brandon Hole led off the inning with a single, he advanced to second on a wild pitch and came home to score on a David Kerian RBI single to center. Windle would then walk Davis Hendrickson, Thomas Lindauer and Michael Hurwitz to walk in the second run of the inning. Windle was able to get out of the jam when he forced Justin Parr to pop up to end the threat.
Minnesota would get a run back in the bottom of the frame to put the game at 2-1. Dan Olinger led off the inning with a single before Alex LaShomb walked to put runners at first and second. Matt Halloran delivered a RBI single to right as Olinger came home to score his 25th run of the season.
The Gophers and Windle got out of a jam in the top of the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Windle was able to strike out Davis Hendrickson and get Jason Goldstein to pop up to end the inning.
Minnesota tied the game when it took advantage of a leadoff double from Troy Larson in the bottom of the fifth. Henkemeyer singled in Larson to tie up the game at 2-2.
Windle's day was done when he went five innings, scattered six hits, six walks and five strikeouts allowing two earned runs. Meyer completed the game for the Gophers, as he kept the Illini off the board while striking out six and walking none.
Both teams went 1-2-3 in the sixth for the first time in the game. Illinois would leave the bases loaded in the top of the seventh as Minnesota kept the game tied at 2-2. After Brandon Hohl singled up the middle, while David Kerian hit one to left field to put runners on the corners, two outs. After Kerian stole second, Davis Hendrickson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. However, Meyer and the Gophers would get Jason Goldstein to hit into a fielder's choice as Hendrickson was out at second for the force out.
Minnesota opened the bottom on the ninth with a double by Matt Halloran, who was pinch run for by JT Canakes. The Gophers then loaded the bases after Troy Larson singled and Connor Schaefbauer was intentionally walked. Henkemeyer then singled home Larson to secure the win, which was Minnesota's first walk-off win since April 14, 2012, against Northwestern.
Pitching Coach Todd Oakes Passes Away At 55
Minnesota assistant baseball coach Todd Oakes passed away today after a courageous and public battle with leukemia. Oakes, who coached the Minnesota pitching staff, was 55.
Gophers Drop Out of B1G Tournament
Minnesota falls to Michigan 3-2 in an elimination game on Thursday at TD Ameritrade Park
Minnesota Falls in B1G Tournament Opener
Gophers play at 1 p.m. in an elimination game tomorrow afternoon against either Michigan or Ohio State