Gophers Drop B1G Tourney Opener
May 22, 2014
The University of Minnesota (27-23) baseball team fell 3-2 in its Big Ten Tournament opener Wednesday at TD Ameritrade Park. Michigan (29-27-1) took 10 hits to score its first run, but the 10th hit was a three-run home run by Travis Maezes in the seventh inning.
The Wolverines knocked out 11 hits to the Golden Gophers’ six, and Michigan committed one error.
With the loss, the Gophers will face eighth-seeded Iowa at 1 p.m. CDT Thursday in an elimination game. The game will be televised on BTN. Michigan will play the No. 1 seed in Indiana at 9 p.m.
Minnesota starter Alec Crawford escaped an early Michigan scoring threat. Cole Martin led off the second inning with a single and advanced to third on a double by Carmen Benedetti. Kevin White hit a grounder to Crawford. He threw home for the out, as Martin was on his way to the plate. A 6-3 double play got the next two outs.
Catcher Mark Tatera also helped keep the Wolverines off the scoreboard. He caught one runner stealing second and picked off another at first base.
The Gophers did not get a hit off of Trent Szkutnik until the fourth inning, but they capitalized right away. Tony Skjefte singled through the left side with one out, and Michael Handel’s two-out double to left-center drove in Skjefte for the first run of the game. Handel hit 2-for-4 in his first start at shortstop since the Gophers' series at Florida State.
Crawford followed the Gophers’ score with his first 1-2-3 inning of the night. Then the Gophers added a run to their lead with another two-out hit. Jordan Smith was hit by pitch and Tatera hit a single. Dan Motl’s fly ball, the second out, moved Smith to third. Connor Schaefbauer singled to left to score Smith.
Michigan remained scoreless until the seventh. Jackson Lamb and Eric Jacobson hit consecutive one-out singles before Maezes drove them in with his home run for a 3-2 lead.
Crawford’s (4-2) final line was 6 1/3 innings pitched, 10 hits, three runs, no walks and two strikeouts. James Bourque (2-2), who relieved Szkutnik in the fifth and pitched three innings, allowed two hits and a walk while striking out three to earn the win. Jacob Cronenworth earned the save, his 12th of the year.
The Big Ten Tournament set a new single-day attendance record with 10,424 fans coming to Wednesday’s four games.