Gophers take mid-week game over South Dakota State

After allowing a solo home run in the second inning, the Gophers scored five unanswered runs to win 5-1.

First baseman Cole McDevitt prepares to catch Patrick Fredrickson's throw after a UCLA player tried to steal second during the game on Saturday, June 2, 2018 at Siebert Field. The Gophers won 3-2.

Ellen Schmidt

First baseman Cole McDevitt prepares to catch Patrick Fredrickson’s throw after a UCLA player tried to steal second during the game on Saturday, June 2, 2018 at Siebert Field. The Gophers won 3-2.

Jack Warrick

Minnesota’s experienced players were on display in Tuesday’s win over South Dakota State University.

Senior first baseman Cole McDevitt hit 3-4 and batted in the game-winning run in the top of the fifth inning, and fifth-year senior pitcher Jeff Fasching allowed no runs to record the win in a 5-1 victory over the Jackrabbits (16-15, 9-6 conf.) at Siebert Field.

“[McDevitt] was in a couple bad weekends in a row, and I was happy to see him make an adjustment,” head coach John Anderson said. “We need those guys, the guys with the most experience.”

The Gophers overcame an early 1-0 South Dakota State lead from when Gophers’ freshman pitcher J.P. Massey let up a solo home run in the second inning. It was the first start of Massey’s career and he let up one run, struck out four and walked five batters in four innings.

“[I] felt good. [I] had command over my fast ball. Breaking ball wasn’t there the whole game, but I was able to compete,” Massey said. “My defense definitely helped me out through the game.”

McDevitt tallied his third hit of the game in the top of the fifth inning to score shortstop Jordan Kozicky, and take the lead 2-1. Minnesota (16-18, 7-5 Big Ten) added to its lead when Jackrabbits’ catcher Ryan McDonald let up a passed ball to score Minnesota designated hitter Eli Wilson, and then McDevitt scored on a wild pitch moments later for a 4-1 lead after the fifth inning.

“I’ve been struggling for a few weeks, no doubt, so it’s good to get back in the hit column,” said McDevitt. “I felt good at the plate all night long.”

In the bottom of the seventh inning Kozicky hit a solo home run over the left field fence to increase the lead to 5-1. Kozicky leads the team with seven home runs and 34 RBIs.

Fasching, who has the lowest ERA on the team, pitched three innings and struck out four to collect his first win of the season.

“I’m able to talk to him all the time. He’s able to help me out mentally,” Massey said about Fasching, the older lefty. “Just getting through some of the humps of the season, and figuring things out. He’s just been a great leader for our team.”

The Jackrabbits could have scored two runs in the top of the fifth inning, but outfielder Ben Mezzenga sprinted at a line drive in center field, dove and caught the ball, and the crowd erupted as he ended the top of the inning.

McDevitt hit 3-4 with an RBI on the night. The Jackrabbits had fewer hits than McDevitt did personally with two hits total, while Minnesota tallied nine. It was the 31st consecutive road game for the Jackrabbits.

Minnesota will play Oklahoma (25-12, 6-6 conf.) this weekend in a three-game non-conference series. Saturday’s game will be played at Target Field downtown at 2 p.m.

“It’s not a Big Ten series but [we’ve] got a really quality opponent coming to town,” said McDevitt. “It’ll be fun to watch the guys battle.”