Eli Wilson’s three-run home run walks off Nebraska

The Gophers catcher went 4-5 with four RBIs, including the walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Pitcher Brett Schulze throws the ball at Siebert Field on Friday, March 29. Eli Wilson's home run in the bottom of the tenth inning lead the Gophers to a 5-2 win over Nebraska. 

Jack Rodgers

Pitcher Brett Schulze throws the ball at Siebert Field on Friday, March 29. Eli Wilson’s home run in the bottom of the tenth inning lead the Gophers to a 5-2 win over Nebraska. 

Jack Warrick

The game came down to extra innings and Minnesota’s experienced catcher took a swing to potentially end the game.

Eli Wilson knew it was out of the park as he made contact. 

“I talked to the guys that faced him before. They said he got a good change, so I was just trying to get something up in the zone, and fortunately got one up,” Wilson said. “I knew it was gone.”

Wilson hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, giving Minnesota (10-13, 4-0 Big Ten) a 5-2 victory over Nebraska on Friday evening at Siebert Field. It was the first Big Ten home game for Minnesota, and the fifth straight victory after starting the season 5-13 in the non-conference portion of the season.

“Slowly but surely we’ve gained some confidence,” said head coach John Anderson. “It was going to take 15 or 20 games to [have] guys get some experience, figure out what we have, try to put people in the right spots in the order.”

Gophers starter Max Meyer pitched eight innings, the most he has been called upon to pitch in his two-year career with Minnesota. Nebraska’s Mojo Hagge hit a solo home run off Meyer in the top of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Meyer shrugged it off, striking out 11 batters and getting Minnesota to the ninth inning tied 2-2.

Meyer served as the closer last season, tying a program record of 16 saves. He has moved to the Friday starter, a spot he said he was comfortable with because he started in high school.

“Whatever they’re going to want me to do, whether coaches want me to go close or start,” Meyer said. “I’m going to give them my all no matter what.”

Wilson first contributed offensively in the game in the bottom of the third inning with an RBI single that scored outfielder Drew Hmielewski. Hmielewski’s single in the fifth inning scored outfielder Riley Smith for a 2-1 lead. Nebraska’s Cam Chick hit an RBI single in the top of the seventh to tie the game 2-2. 

Gophers pitcher Brett Schulze came into the game in the top of the ninth inning and struck out six batters to take the victory and his third save of the season. Anderson said Schulze is moving into the role of closer as Meyer moved to a starter. Schulze has a 2.66 ERA on 20 1/3 innings pitched.

“Schulze was fantastic again out of the bullpen,” Anderson said about the junior pitcher. “You saw the older players, the guys with experience.”

Next up, Minnesota will play Nebraska on Saturday at 1 p.m. back at Siebert Field. Sophomore pitcher Patrick Fredrickson will get the start on the mound (4.76 ERA, 22 2/3 IP).