Gophers return to earth after upset win

Minnesota upset UCLA on Friday but was outscored 28-1 in two losses.

by Samuel Gordon

Beating a preseason All-American pitcher is a great way to start the first series of the season.

Getting blown out in the next two games is a bad way to end it.

Minnesota’s baseball team dropped two of three games to No. 5 UCLA over the weekend in Los Angeles.

The Gophers beat the Bruins and their ace Adam Plutko 6-2 in extra innings Friday, only to follow that up with two blowout losses — 14-0 and 14-1.

Minnesota’s bats — a huge problem for the team a year ago — were dormant for much of the weekend.

Junior lefty Tom Windle’s return to the rotation helped keep Bruins bats quiet Friday.

But UCLA’s sluggers took advantage of inexperienced starters Ben Meyer and Jordan Jess on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

Meyer allowed seven runs, five earned, on nine hits Saturday. He lasted three innings, but changing pitchers didn’t help. UCLA rocked freshman Dalton Sawyer for five runs in 1.1 innings.

Bruins starter Nick Vander Tuig threw six shutout innings, and UCLA’s bullpen followed suit.

On Sunday, UCLA roughed up Jess for six runs in the opening frame and cruised from there.

First baseman Dan Olinger drove in the Gophers’ lone run. He also had the go-ahead hit in Minnesota’s win Friday.

Olinger batted 2-for-5 on Friday. Right fielder Bobby Juan went 2-for-5 and drove in a pair of runs.

Shortstop Michael Handel batted 3-for-5 with two RBIs, and center fielder Andy Henkemeyer went 3-for-5 as well.

Windle threw four shutout innings, but reliever Ty McDevitt gave up a two-run double in the fifth inning.

The Gophers tied the game in the seventh inning. Handel led off the frame with a single. Juan knocked him in with a double, and second baseman Tony Skjefte singled in Juan. All of the damage came off Plutko.

Veteran relievers Billy Soule and Kevin Kray combined to throw three shutout innings to push the game into extra innings.

The Gophers scored four runs in the top of the tenth, and Kray pitched a scoreless bottom of the tenth.