Minnesota moves to 8-4 after two midweek wins

The Gophers defeated South Dakota State and UW-Milwaukee and are on a three-game win streak.

Sophomore first baseman Toby Hanson bats during the Gophers baseball game against Kansas at Siebert Field on Wednesday.

Image by Maddy Fox

Sophomore first baseman Toby Hanson bats during the Gophers baseball game against Kansas at Siebert Field on Wednesday.

by Luke Hanlon

Minnesota is 8-4 through 12 games this season, giving just enough of a sample size to assess the season thus far.

“I’m happy where we’re at,” head coach John Anderson said. “The home stand’s been good for us; we’ve accomplished what we’ve wanted to here.”

The Gophers have played ten games at home and won seven of them, including their last three.

A part of that win streak was their 7-5 win over South Dakota State Tuesday night.

Freshman Nolan Burchill, making his second-career start, recorded his first win as a member of the Gophers. He pitched 3.2 innings and allowed five hits and two earned runs.

The Gophers got on the scoreboard early with three runs in the bottom of the first.

Ben Mezzenga and Luke Pettersen both got hits to start the inning, putting runners at first and third for Terrin Vavra.

Vavra grounded to Jackrabbits’ first baseman Matt Johnson who tried to throw out Pettersen at second, but ended up throwing the ball to the center field wall, allowing Pettersen to score all the way from first base. Vavra then scored after a Matt Stemper sacrifice fly.

The Gophers scored four more runs in the bottom of the third, two of them coming off a double by Stemper, giving him three RBI on the night.

Senior Tim Shannon entered the game in the top of the ninth inning with the Gophers leading 7-5. He retired the Jackrabbits in order and recorded his first career save.

Wednesday night, the Gophers defeated UW-Milwaukee 5-4 on a walk-off double by Toby Hanson.

The bottom of the ninth started with a single by Pettersen, followed by Vavra getting hit by a pitch when trying to bunt. Micah Coffey hit a blooper to centerfield that looked like it would drop, but Cole Heili ran in and made a great diving catch to rob Coffey.

After Stemper stuck out, Hanson stepped up and drove the ball deep to center field. This time, there was no chance Heili could chase it down, as it landed before the wall and eventually hopped over, scoring Pettersen and securing the victory.

“I was struggling all game,” Hanson said. “I told myself on that last at bat, ‘Don’t try to do anything, just try to get the run in.’ Obviously, something good was able to happen there.”

The ninth was set up by a lead change and a tie in the prior innings.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Gophers capitalized off a Panthers error after Vavra sac-bunted, getting two runners into scoring position.

Coffey hit an RBI-infield single, scoring Mezzenga. Panthers second baseman, Billy Quirke, had a throwing error trying to get Coffey out, letting Pettersen score from second and giving the Gophers the 4-3 lead.

That lead didn’t last long, as Dalton Varsho hit a solo homerun to lead off the top of the eighth. Jordan Smith almost made a great catch, as he ran into the left field foul pole and fell over the wall trying chase down the ball. He couldn’t hang on and the Panthers tied the game at four.

The Gophers have a three-game series against Missouri State this weekend, their last three outings at U.S. Bank Stadium this season.