Walk-off highlights sweep of Nebraska

Sara Groenewegen hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh Saturday.

Junior Sara Groenewegen swings at a pitch at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Friday.

Niti Gupta

Junior Sara Groenewegen swings at a pitch at Jane Sage Cowles Stadium on Friday.

by Emily Polglaze

The Gophers continued their winning streak over the weekend with a sweep over Nebraska at home. 
Minnesota came away with a 6-0 victory in Friday’s game and followed it with a walk-off 11-10 victory Saturday
Sunday’s finale was canceled because of the weather.
“We had great pitching and defense Friday night against a great offensive team,” head coach Jessica Allister said. “And then we had guts in our hitting Saturday, coming back and winning. There’s a lot to build off of.”
The No. 24 Gophers (32-12, 13-3 Big Ten) gained a lead in Friday’s series opener when senior right fielder Kayla Wenner hit her third home run of the season in the second inning. 
Minnesota added more power in the bottom of the fourth inning when senior right fielder Sydney Fabian hit a two-run home run with one out on a 0-2 count.
The Gophers added two more runs in the fifth inning, one coming off of an RBI single by freshman Maddie Houlihan, and kept the Huskers’ bats quiet for a shutout victory.
Junior Sara Groenewegen earned the complete-game victory in the circle, allowing only one hit while striking out nine.
“Everybody stepped on the field and was ready for every pitch, and everybody was focused, and it showed,” Wenner said. “We were dominant in that way because we wanted to play and we wanted to win.”
Nebraska’s offense put up a stronger fight on Saturday, scoring a run in the first inning.
The Huskers didn’t lead for long, however, as senior catcher Taylor LeMay answered for Minnesota in the bottom of the first with a two-run home run.
Nebraska (28-16, 9-7 Big Ten) scored four runs in the third inning to pull out in front again, but Minnesota scored eight runs in the fourth inning to go up 10-5.
Wenner and senior center fielder Paige Palkovich started the fourth-inning rally with solo home runs. Fabian tied the score with an RBI triple, and junior Sam Macken later hit an RBI double for Minnesota.
Groenewegen finished the inning with a first-pitch grand slam for her ninth home run of the year.
The Huskers fought back to tie the game, scoring two runs in the sixth inning and hitting a three-run home run in the seventh.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Gophers had two outs with the bases loaded when Groenewegen came up to the plate again.
She got her second hit of the game, a single to right field, to give Minnesota a walk-off victory.
Groenewegen also earned the pitching victory in the game to move to 23-5 on the season. Her ninth-inning hit gave the Gophers their fifth victory in a row, which put the team in second place in the Big Ten.
“We have to realize that we need to win each inning, not just the whole game, and I think we did a really good job of that,” Groenewegen said. “We just stuck with it and had fun. It was a really emotional game, but we had fun, and that’s what we play for.”