Minnesota drops series to No. 23 Indiana

The Gophers won the first game 7-3 before dropping the next two games.

Outfielder Drew Hmielewski runs for first base at Siebert Field on Friday, March 29. Eli Wilson's home run in the bottom of the tenth inning lead the Gophers to a 5-2 win over Nebraska.

Jack Rodgers

Outfielder Drew Hmielewski runs for first base at Siebert Field on Friday, March 29. Eli Wilson's home run in the bottom of the tenth inning lead the Gophers to a 5-2 win over Nebraska.

Jack Warrick

Minnesota got ahead in the first game but couldn’t replicate that success in the final two games.

The Gophers dropped their fourth weekend series in a row when they went to Indiana for a three-game series Friday through Sunday.

“They capitalize on your freebies,” said head coach John Anderson. “We walked people and gave them opportunities, and on defense they make you pay for it.”

Minnesota (18-22, 8-7 Big Ten) took the first game 7-3 before dropping the second game on Saturday 7-6 and losing the series finale 7-1 Sunday to No. 23 Indiana (30-14, 11-4 Big Ten) at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington, Indiana.

The highlight of the weekend came Friday when starting pitcher Max Meyer recorded a win on the mound, throwing seven innings for 12 strikeouts and two earned runs. Meyer gave up a home run to Indiana outfielder Matt Gorski in the bottom of the first inning, giving the Hoosiers a 1-0 lead, but Minnesota outfielder Drew Hmielewski tied the game 1-1 with a sacrifice grounder in the second inning.

In the fifth inning, Gophers’ outfielder Easton Bertrand hit a a triple to score two. Then Bertrand came around for a score on a groudout from second baseman Zach Raabe. Hmielewski capped scoring for the Gophers with a triple in the top of the eighth to score three runs, and Minnesota took the victory 7-3. Hmielewski notched four RBIs in the game.

On Saturday, the Gophers held a 6-3 lead going into the ninth inning, led in hitting by outfielder Ben Mezzenga who was 4-for-5 that day. Minnesota’s closing pitcher, Brett Schulze, who was on a program-record 14-game winning streak, let up a solo home run, two walks, and the a game-deciding three-run home run by Indiana designated hitter Matt Lloyd, allowing Indiana to come from behind and take the victory 7-6. It ended Schulze’s recorded win streak at 14, and it was his first loss this season.

“He’s been lights-out all year, and so eventually the baseball gods are going to get you,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t going to go on forever.”

Starting pitcher Sam Thoresen pitched six innings and allowed one run while racking up 11 strikeouts.

In the series finale, Minnesota starting pitcher Joshua Culliver got Minnesota into a hole early by allowing three runs and walking three in the first inning. He was pulled after two outs for reliever Ryan Duffy. Gophers’ third baseman Jack Wassel batted one run in with a double in the fourth inning, but that was all the scoring for Minnesota, and the team fell 7-1 to lose the series.

“You look at people that are at the top of the league; [they] are the teams with the most experience,” Anderson said, having played four of the top five teams in the Big Ten already this season. “That’s what it takes in this league to stay at the top.”

The Gophers will play North Dakota State on Tuesday at 6 p.m. back at Siebert Field. They are scheduled to play their next 10 games at home.