Gophers finish sweep of Ohio State

The Gophers secured their second Big Ten sweep of the season on Sunday.

Jordan Kozicky eyes the ball during the game against Illinois on Sunday, April 14 at Siebert Field in Minneapolis. The Gophers lost 3-13.

Jasmin Kemp

Jordan Kozicky eyes the ball during the game against Illinois on Sunday, April 14 at Siebert Field in Minneapolis. The Gophers lost 3-13.

Paul Hodowanic

After a thrilling 18-inning, 5-4 victory over Ohio State on Saturday, Minnesota played another 18 innings on Sunday, this time over two games, winning both to secure the sweep over the Buckeyes. 

In the first game of the day, the Buckeyes struck first, grabbing a 1-0 lead after one. However, it was nearly all Gophers after that, winning 11-2. In the second game, Minnesota edged out the victory with a late inning push to win 3-2.

“For today, we knew the more energetic team was going to come out on top,” junior Jordan Kozicky said. “We just told ourselves if we can get the dugout fired up and get the guys going that we would come out on top and that’s exactly what happened.”

Easton Bertrand got the Gophers in the run column in the third inning, scoring Eduardo Estrada with a double. Later in the inning, an Eli Wilson walk with the bases loaded brought another run home. 

In the fourth inning, Estrada smashed a two-run home run to left center, extending the lead to 4-1. The Buckeyes answered with a run in the sixth, but an offensive explosion in the seventh and eighth inning put the game out of reach. The Gophers scored seven runs over the two innings, stretching their lead to 11-2. A solo shot by Kozicky and two-run home run by Andrew Wilhite provided the runs in the seventh. Kozicky plated another runner in the eighth with a single. He then scored off of a wild pitch. The final run was scored off a sacrifice fly from Bertrand.

Sophomore pitcher Sam Thoresen started for the Gophers and gave up just one hit and one run over six innings. Thoresen was credited with his fourth win of the season as he struck out six batters and walked five.

The Gophers kept the momentum to start the second game. Both Estrada and Kozicky, who homered in the first game, hit a ball over the fence. Estrada was first with a solo shot in the first inning and Kozicky followed that with a solo home run of his own in the second inning. It was Estrada’s fifth of the season and Kozicky’s ninth.

Coming into Sunday, Kozicky was 1-13 in his last three games. Head coach John Anderson said Kozicky has a tendency to get down on himself during a slump, and after some early fielding struggle and a couple strikeouts, Anderson sat down with his struggling hitter.

“We had a short talk after his second strikeout earlier today and he has a tendency to start to mope and he made a couple defensive errors,” Anderson said. “He lets the game beat him up so much. It’s a cruel game, it’s a hard game. You got to be able to move on. You’re not going to play perfectly, not in this game … I thought he did a good job.”

Kozicky finished the day 3-8 with two home runs and three RBIs. 

The Buckeyes matched their first game total with one swing in the second inning as Scottie Seymour hit a double that brought home a pair of runs. 

The offenses were held silent after the second until the eighth inning. With two outs in the inning and Cole McDevitt at first, center fielder Riley Smith swung and hit the ball into shallow right field, right in between the right fielder and the second baseman. It bounced just inside the foul line and McDevitt beat out the throw to home, putting the Gophers up 3-2. 

Pitcher Jake Stevenson, who finished off the eighth inning, came back out for the Gophers to close the game in the ninth. The senior sent the Buckeyes down in order, finishing off the 3-2 victory.

It is the second Big Ten sweep of the season for the Gophers, both have come at home. 

“It’s hard to sweep anyone in the league… it’s just too even,” Anderson said. “Either you played really well or the other team made some mistakes and gave you the win. I just thought that we were able get one more hit, make one more pitch, make one more play than they were.”

The Gophers will host South Dakota State on Tuesday, May 7 for a mid-week matchup against the Jack Rabbits.