Nebraska downs Gophers

Pitcher Toby Anderson pitches the ball during a game against Northwestern at Siebert Field on March 28.

Daily File Photo, Juliet Farmer

Pitcher Toby Anderson pitches the ball during a game against Northwestern at Siebert Field on March 28.

Ben Gotz

The Gophers got one standout pitching performance over the weekend, but it wasn’t enough for the team to win its first series in the Big Ten.
 
The Gophers (12-19, 3-9 Big Ten) took the first game against Nebraska Friday 3-0, but the ranked Huskers battled back for two straight victories to win the series.
 
“I don’t think we played the best we can, probably, but that’s going to happen. It’s baseball,” redshirt junior pitcher Jordan Jess said.
 
The Gophers’ victory Friday against Nebraska was their first against a ranked team this season and the team’s third shutout of the year.
 
Starting pitcher Ben Meyer threw six and two-thirds innings of shutout baseball, not allowing a hit until the bottom of the fourth inning.
 
“I think I did a really good job of throwing my off-speed [pitches] early in the count and making them think about it later in the count, so I could really locate my fastball
on the inside corner and make them get themselves out,” Meyer said.
 
Meyer was pulled with two on and two out in the bottom of the sixth, but Jess took the mound and recorded a three-pitch strikeout to end the inning.
 
Jess finished off the game from there with a little extra breathing room in the bottom of the ninth thanks to freshman Toby Hanson’s first collegiate home run.
 
“When you’re put in a situation like that, I think the biggest thing that I was kind of keeping in the back of my mind was picking Ben up and finishing what he started,” Jess said. “He pitched unbelievable, and for me to come in and finish what he started was big for me.”
 
The Gophers stayed close with the Huskers on Saturday, but a four-run seventh inning allowed the Huskers to tie the series at one game apiece.
 
Centerfielder Dan Motl hit big, going 3-for-5 from the plate with a double. He also hit a leadoff double for the second game in a row to give the Gophers an early lead, but the Huskers battled back with two runs off of sophomore pitcher Toby Anderson.
 
The two teams entered the seventh inning tied, but a double and a bases-clearing triple allowed the Huskers to take a four-run lead and, ultimately, the victory.
 
“They got a big hit that [outfielder] Jordan Smith played to the fence,” head coach John Anderson said. “[He] smashed into the fence, and the ball fell out. And that
was the ball game.”
 
On Sunday, the Gophers had another chance to win their first Big Ten series to the season, but the Huskers jumped out to a lead Minnesota couldn’t recover from.
 
“We didn’t get out of the gate [Sunday] on the mound,” Anderson said. “Gave them a five spot lead.”
 
Nebraska scored five runs in the first two innings off five hits. The Gophers narrowed the gap with a three-run top of the fourth, but the Huskers struck right back with
three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning.
 
The Huskers finished with 17 hits in their 12-3 victory to clinch the series. The loss was the Gophers 26th game on the road out of 31 games, but the Gophers now have an upcoming 13-game home stand.
 
“I think we got a tired group here,” Anderson said. “It’ll be nice to be home. I can’t ask anything more of these players — from the way they competed to how they handled themselves. It’s been an incredibly long road trip.”