Minnesota comes back to win two

The Gophers rallied in the eighth inning twice in their series against Maryland.

Redshirt Junior Jordan Smith prepares to hit a pitch pitch during the weekend series against Maryland at Siebert Field Sunday. Although losing the series to Maryland, Smith's single in bottom of the 8 brought in two runs and gave the gophers a lead in their 6-4 victory.

Sam Harper

Redshirt Junior Jordan Smith prepares to hit a pitch pitch during the weekend series against Maryland at Siebert Field Sunday. Although losing the series to Maryland, Smith’s single in bottom of the 8 brought in two runs and gave the gophers a lead in their 6-4 victory.

Kaitlin Merkel

Two big eighth-inning comebacks on Friday and Sunday lifted the Gophers to a series victory against Maryland over the weekend.
 
 
Minnesota (21-11, 6-2) scored seven runs in the eighth Friday en route to a 9-5 comeback victory and put up a three-run rally in the eighth on Sunday for a 6-4 victory to clinch the series. The Gophers dropped the second game of the series 4-2 on Saturday at Siebert Field.
 
 
The Gophers have now won four consecutive series and have yet to lose a series in Big Ten play.
 
 
Sophomore shortstop Luke Pettersen said the Gophers offense, which leads the Big Ten with a team batting average of .327, felt confident no matter how late in the game it was.
 
 
“As a hitting team, we know that nobody can stop us for nine innings,” Pettersen said. “So we keep grinding even if we can’t get runs early, and both these games we were able to [come back].”
 
 
Maryland took a 3-0 lead through seven innings on Friday, but the Gophers got to the Terrapins in the eighth.
 
 
Minnesota scored seven runs on seven hits in the inning, and Maryland had to use four different pitchers.
 
 
The Terrapins notched two runs in the top of the ninth and had the bases loaded with just one out, but senior reliever Jordan Jess retired the final two batters to end the game.
 
 
“I think the difference in this series was our bullpen pitched better than their bullpen did,” head coach John Anderson said. “Both teams are pretty even, and it comes down to two or three plays every game.”
 
 
Pettersen, in his 14th start this season, led the offensive comeback with three hits, including an RBI-single in the eighth inning. In all, nine different Minnesota batters recorded 13 hits in the contest.
 
 
Anderson said Pettersen filled a big role for the team this weekend with the regular starting shortstop, freshman Terrin Vavra, injured.
 
 
“[Pettersen] played phenomenal on defense for us and chimed in with some good at-bats and hits for us in the nine hole,” Anderson said. “We have some depth. … We’ve got a lot of options right now, and that bodes well for us.” 
 
 
The Gophers dropped the second game of the series on Saturday despite attempting another comeback. Minnesota scored two runs in the eighth inning to cut its deficit to 4-2 but didn’t score again.
 
 
Sophomore infielders Toby Hanson and Micah Coffey each recorded a RBI-single on the day, while junior Matt Fiedler added two hits and scored a run.
 
 
The team trailed again entering the eighth on Sunday but scored three runs to take a 6-4 lead.
 
 
A Maryland error loaded the bases in the inning, and a wild pitch allowed Minnesota to tie the game. Redshirt junior left fielder Jordan Smith then hit a two-run single, which ended up being the winning margin in the series.
 
 
“I was just really trying to put the ball in play. I noticed the infield was in, so there was really big gaps,” Smith said. “We never give up. We’ve been in that situation before all year where we’re battling from behind.”