The Minnesota baseball team (14-8) saw a 6-1 lead disappear as it dropped a 9-7 decision to Northern Iowa (12-13) at the Metrodome on Wednesday, Apr. 1.
Minnesota entered the top of the sixth inning with a 6-1 lead, but pair of errors and six hits by Northern Iowa in the inning helped it score six runs and take a 7-6 lead. Minnesota tied the game at 7-7 in the bottom of the sixth inning. However, the Panthers took the lead for good when Jeff Taliaferro had a two-out, two-run double on an 0-2 count off Scott Matyas (North Prairie, Wis.) to give Northern Iowa a 9-7 lead.
On the night, Minnesota stranded a season-high 15 runners, while the Panthers only stranded two.
The Golden Gophers were led by AJ Pettersen (Minnetonka, Minn.) who reached base four times, scored a pair of runs, knocked in one and went 2-for-4. Senior Matt Nohelty also was 2-for-5, scored two runs, stole a base, had a triple and knocked in one run. Nohelty has now reached base in 38 straight games dating back to the 2008 season.
Junior Derek McCallum (Shoreview, Minn.) was also 2-for-6 with two RBI. McCallum now has 16 RBI in his last six games. He has also recorded an RBI in seven straight games, and knocked in multi-RBI in six straight contests.
Kyle Geason (Eden Prairie, Minn.) reached base three times, and was 1-for-3 with two runs on the night, while Eric Decker (Cold Spring, Minn.) reached base three times, and was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Nick O'Shea also had multiple hits, as he went 2-for-5 with a double and a ru.
Northern Iowa jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the third. Cory Ege got things started with a one-out single up the middle, and came home to score when Grant Grgurich delivered an RBI double down the left field line. Grgurich moved to third on a balk, but was thrown out at the plate Geason on a fielder's choice ground out by Deric Manrique.
Minnesota answered by sending nine batters to the plate and scoring three runs to move ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the third. Geason led off the inning with a double to left field. Nohelty was hit by a pitch to make it first and second with no outs. Geason came home to score on an RBI single by Petterson through the left side to tie the game at 1-1. McCallum followed with an RBI single to left field to plate Nohelty to give the Golden Gophers a 2-1 lead. Knudson loaded the bases on a chopper that he beat out. Decker plated Pettersen when he beat out a two-out infield single to put Minnesota ahead 3-1.
The Golden Gophers pushed their lead out to a 5-1 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. Geason got things started with a leadoff walk, and scored when Nohelty crushed an RBI triple to center field to make it 4-1. Two batters later, McCallum plated Nohelty with an RBI ground out to make it 5-1.
Minnesota added a single run in the bottom of the fifth to push its lead to 6-1. O'Shea got things started with a double, and moved to third on a Decker ground out. Justin Gominsky (Mahtomedi, Minn.) brought home O'Shea when he reached on a error by the shortstop to make it 6-1.
The Panthers struck back with six runs in the top of the sixth inning to take the lead back at 7-6. The inning started when Cory Ege singled up the middle and Grant Grgurich reached on an error by the third baseman. Manrique loaded the bases with nobody out on a bunt single. It looked the like Minnesota had a chance for a double play when Levi Ferguson hit a grounder to the shortstop. However, Ferguson beat out the grounder for a fielder's choice that scored Ege. Grgurich also came home to score as part of the play to make it 6-3 when the ball sailed wide of first base. The Panthers scored their next four runs with two outs, as Brett Douglas delivered an RBI single, followed by James Dinizo's RBI single and Taliaferro's single that tied the game at 6-6. Dinizo put Northern Iowa ahead when he scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-6. OVerall, the Panthers sent 10 batters to the plate, had six hits, scored six runs and benefitted from two Golden Gopher errors.
Minnesota responded with a single run in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 7-7. Pettersen led off the inning with a single to center field, moved to second on a wild pitch and went to third on a McCallum ground out. Kvasnicka plated Pettersen with an RBI single to tie it at 7-7.
Northern Iowa took the lead for good in the top of the eighth inning with a pair of runs to move ahead 9-7. Jason Summers led off the inning with a double, and tagged up to third on a fly out. Matyas intentionally walked Douglas to make it first and third, and struck out Dinizo for the second out of the inning. Matyas got ahead 0-2 to the next batter, but Taliaferro delivered the go-ahead two-run double on the next pitch.
Matyas took the loss to fall to 0-1, as he gave up two hits, two runs, walked one and struck out three in two innings of work. Ivan Lopez pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings for Northern Iowa to pick up the win to move to 1-1. Shuhei Fujiya pitched a scoreless ninth to collect his fifth save of the season.
Seth Rosin (Shoreview, Minn.) started and retired all four batters he faced. Scott Fern (Eau Claire, Wis.) and Tyler Oakes (Jordan, Minn.) each pitched a scoreless innning, while Tim Ryan (Eagan, Minn.) did not give up a run in 1.1 innings of work.
Taliferro paced the Northern Iowa offense, going 2-for-4 with three RBI, while Douglas reached base three times and was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Ege was also 2-for-4 with two runs.
Minnesota will be back in action this week against Ohio State on Mar. 27-29. The Golden Gophers will face the Buckeyes on Friday, Mar. 27 at 6:35 p.m., Saturday, Mar. 28 at 2:05 p.m. and Sunday, Mar. 29 at 12:15 p.m. All three games will be played at the Metrodome. All of the games will be show on live video on the Gold Zone and can be heard on gophersports.com. The final two games can be heard on KLBB (1220 AM).