The Gophers opened 2017 with two gritty wins at the Texas Classic topping Maryland 3-2 on a walk-off and beating Texas 5-2 on their home turf.
First Game: Minnesota 3, Maryland 2
A pair of freshmen rose to the occasion in their collegiate debut helping the Gophers to a 3-2 victory over Maryland. Amber Fiser picked up the win in the circle and MaKenna Partain ripped a walk-off single through the right side as Minnesota topped Maryland 3-2 this afternoon.
Only the designated player position with Sara Groenewegen was the same as last season with a plethora of newcomers and some familiar faces changing positions this year.
After a scoreless first two innings the Gophers struck first in the bottom of the third. Danielle Parlich opened with a double and scooted to third the next play. She later came sliding home on a wild pitch to break the tie. Sara Groenewegen was walked and reached second on a fielder’s choice. Partain brought home with a beautifully placed single to left center. Partain went 3-4 in her first collegiate start.
Maryland threatened to answer in the fourth loading the bases with just one out by Tori Finucane shut the door with back-to-back strike outs. The senior transfer was brilliant through the first five innings. She finished the day with eight strikeouts in 5.1 innings of work.
After back-to-back doubles Maryland got on the board in the sixth. Fiser checked in and wasted no time recording her first collegiate strikeout in three straight pitches. With two outs on the board and a runner on first Maryland hit a single to right field but Sam Macken fielded it and fired to third for the final out.
The Gophers loaded the bases up in the bottom of the sixth with just one out but Maryland was able to get out of the jam without allowing any damage. Both teams left 10 runners on base in the game.
Maryland again put pressure on in the top of the seventh inning loading the bases with just one out. Fiser fielded a grounder and threw home for the second out and caught a batter swinging for the third to get out of the jam.
Maddie Houlihan singled to start the bottom of the seventh and later stole second. With two outs on the board Partain stepped to the plate and drilled a single through the right side scoring a sliding Houlihan for the walk-off victory.
Second Game: Minnesota 5, Texas 2
The Gophers topped Texas showing plenty of patience at bat drawing eight walks to grind out five runs on the evening. Houlihan came up with two big RBIs in the victory and Groenewegen was solid in the circle.
The Maroon and Gold were able to jump out to a 3-0 lead right away in the top of the first. Macken was walked and came all the way around to home the next play as Parlich reached on an error and went to third.
Sara Groenewegen recorded an RBI-fielder's choice and Parlich slid under a tag for the second run of the inning. One more run came in when the Gophers loaded the bases and Sydney Dwyer was able to draw an RBI-walk.
In a crazy second inning Groenewegen recorded three strikeouts but also had a wild pitch and two walks to load the bases. She was able to get out of the jam forcing a ground out to third.
The Longhorns got on the board in the bottom of the third but the Gophers quickly answered to start the fourth. Houlihan hit a high ball to left center that dropped in for an RBI-double scoring Parlich.
Texas put a run on the board in the bottom of the fourth but again Minnesota created some separation with an answer in the fifth. Houlihan again came up with a timely hit with an RBI-single through the left side to score Macken.
Groenewegen and the field made quick work in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to seal the victory. Groenewegen went the complete game striking out seven batters while only allowing four hits. Houlihan and Kendyl Lindaman combined for four of the Gophers six hits.
Minnesota will go back to work tomorrow afternoon with games against Colorado State and Texas.
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