Gophers rally to take series over St. John’s

The Gophers moved to 18-10 overall after winning two of the three weekend games.

Catcher Eli Wilson swings during the game against St. John's University on Saturday, March 31 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers won 6-3.

Ellen Schmidt

Catcher Eli Wilson swings during the game against St. John’s University on Saturday, March 31 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. The Gophers won 6-3.

Jack Warrick

The Gophers gave up nine hits in two innings on Thursday in their first game against St. John’s, allowing an early 9-0 lead.

But the Gophers found a way to rally the next two days. After they lost the first game 11-5, the team took the series against St. John’s (13-9) by winning two in a row at U.S. Bank Stadium on Friday and Saturday.

“I think the pitchers did a good job after the first game,” pitcher Max Meyer said. “We knew their strengths. They’re a low-ball hitting team, so we decided to change our approach for pitching and dot the pitches where we want to throw.”

The momentum swung in favor of the Gophers during the ninth inning of the second game on Friday.

Trailing 8-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, the Gophers rallied with three RBI hits from outfielder Ben Mezzenga, shortstop Terrin Vavra and catcher Eli Wilson. The Gophers eventually won 9-8 on a walk-off balk from the St. John’s pitcher, which scored outfielder Alex Boxwell.

The Gophers (18-10, 2-1 Big Ten) never held the lead until the final run was scored.

“I think once they walked a few guys, the momentum shifted a little bit,” head coach John Anderson said. “I just challenged them after the game … to get back to being who we are.”

Gophers win series on Saturday

Minnesota carried the momentum from the walk-off victory into the series finale on Saturday. The Gophers went out to an early 4-1 lead on the Red Storm after the first inning came to a close.

“Especially after the last couple games, we’ve started a little slow offensively,” Wilson said. “To come out right out of the gate, and put some good swings on balls, push a couple guys across, was huge.”

The Gophers furthered their lead over the Red Storm in the third inning with two runs thanks to Wilson’s and outfielder Jordan Kozicky’s bats. Kozicky, who hit a triple in the first inning to drive in two runs, had an RBI single in the third to keep the Gophers out of reach of the Red Storm.

“Coming out today with a triple to start it, that was huge for my confidence,” Kozicky said. “That at-bat, I was literally just trying to put a ball in play hard. [You] can’t do too much when you’re struggling.”

Then, to finish off the game at pitcher, Meyer relieved Brett Schulze in the seventh inning and finished the game with three hitless innings.

Meyer recorded his seventh save of the season with the final victory of the series against St. John’s.

“Every pitcher was working their tail off the whole game,” Meyer said. “I just came in there and did my thing and got out of it.”