Henkemeyer’s walk-off hit leads Gophers past Cal Poly

Minnesota won two of three games in a series with Cal Poly.

Samuel Gordon

 

Minnesota left fielder Andy Henkemeyer stepped into the batter’s box in the ninth inning Monday with the game tied, runners on first and second base, two outs and one thing in mind — to put the ball in play.

He ended up with a game-winning hit.

Henkemeyer smoked Cal Poly closer Chase Johnson’s pitch right up the middle to plate Tony Skjefte for a 4-3 walk-off win at the Metrodome.

The Gophers took two of three games from the Mustangs and are winners of back-to-back contests after losing five in a row.

“I was just looking to get a fastball. [Johnson] throws pretty hard — 93-95 [mph],” Henkemeyer said. “[I was trying to] make a line drive or a ground ball that finds a hole like that.”

For most of the game, it didn’t look like Minnesota would need Henkemeyer’s heroics.

Starter Austin Lubinsky threw seven strong innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He was 0-2 with a 7.47 ERA in his four previous starts.

“I just wanted to come out and have some warrior mentality, attack the zone and pitch with some intensity rather than just going out and trying to hit my spots,” Lubinsky said.

“The biggest thing for me was just getting ahead in the count and working my breaking ball early,” he added. “They’re a fastball-hitting team.”

The Mustangs’ David Armendariz put a fastball in the bleachers in the second inning to give Cal Poly a 1-0 lead.

Mitch Haniger doubled the lead with his RBI double in the third inning, but Lubinsky settled into a groove and tamed the Mustangs’ bats.

Gophers catcher Matt Halloran tied the game with his two-run single in the bottom of the third, and first-baseman Ryan Abrahamson’s sacrifice fly in the fourth inning gave Minnesota the lead.

Drew Ghelfi relieved Lubinsky in the eighth inning and pitched well before running into trouble in the ninth.

Mustangs third baseman Jimmy Allen led off the frame with a double, advanced to third base on a passed ball and scored on first-baseman Tim Wise’s game-tying single.

In the bottom of the ninth, Skjefte set the scene for Henkemeyer with a two-out single. Center fielder Troy Larson walked, and Henkemeyer did the rest.

“I think guys got together as a group here and decided we want to compete a little bit better,” head coach John Anderson said about the club’s back-to-back wins.

“We had a little shift in our attitude to some degree. … I think the kids are competing right now and showing up with the right attitude.”

The Gophers will open up a two-game set with North Dakota State on Tuesday. Anderson said freshman pitchers Ty McDevitt and Jordan Jess will take the hill for Minnesota.

Notes

  • Senior third baseman Kyle Geason played the field sparingly against Cal Poly. Anderson said Geason is unable to swing a bat without pain. He has missed several games this year with a wrist injury.
  • Starting pitcher Tom Windle is out indefinitely with soreness in his pitching arm. Anderson said that when Windle returns, he will likely work out of the bullpen to build up his stamina before returning to the rotation.