Gophers baseball drops conference series for the first time this season

The Gophers fall to 7-2 in the Big Ten after dropping two in a row against Indiana.

Sophomore Alex Boxwell runs to first base during the Gophers game against South Dakota State at Siebert Field on April 13.

Maddy Fox

Sophomore Alex Boxwell runs to first base during the Gophers’ game against South Dakota State at Siebert Field on April 13.

by Luke Hanlon

Despite scoring 23 runs, Minnesota dropped two of three over the weekend against Indiana in Bloomington, which brought the first conference series loss for the Gophers so far this season.

“The Big Ten is a tough league,” said head coach John Anderson. “You’re not going to walk through this league and win every series.”

The Gophers were 6-0 — all road wins — in the Big Ten coming into the weekend. The Saturday loss resulted in an end to the Gophers’ 12-game winning streak.

Junior Alex Boxwell said the Gophers got good “baseball karma” over the course of the winning streak to repay the team for some close losses at the start of the season.

The weekend started optimistically for the Gophers as they easily defeated the Hoosiers 11-0 Friday and continued their hot streak.

Minnesota destroyed Indiana’s pitching as every starter got a hit and the team had 20 overall.

They weren’t just hitting singles, either. The Gophers scored five of their 11 runs off home runs.

Boxwell led the game off with a solo shot. Terrin Vavra hit a solo home run to start the fifth, and Matt Stemper broke the game open with a three-run home run in the same inning.

The Gophers were up 7-0 by the end of the fifth inning, and that was more than enough run support for Lucas Gilbreath.

Gilbreath cruised through 7.2 shutout innings, struck out eight batters and allowed only two hits. This performance increased his record to 4-0 this season.

The winning streak came to an end Saturday, but it wasn’t for lack of runs.

The Gophers lineup compiled 21 hits and scored 12 runs, but fell just short in a 13-12 loss.

Minnesota had control of the game early. Boxwell hit another lead-off home run to take the lead immediately, and Stemper and Jordan Kozicky each hit two-run home runs — which was the first of Kozicky’s career — in the fourth inning to take an 8-4 lead.

The fifth inning is where the Gophers fell apart as the Hoosiers put up nine runs and took a 13-8 lead.

Anderson said the wind was blowing out, which contributed to the 25-run game.

The lineup tried its best to pull off the comeback as it cut the deficit to just one run with two innings left, but the Hoosiers’ bullpen shut out the Gophers to secure the victory and handed Minnesota its first loss since March 16.

After combining for 23 runs and 41 hits in the first two games of the series, the Gophers were shut out on Sunday and fell 4-0 for the series loss.

The fifth inning was problematic once again for Minnesota as the Hoosiers scored all four runs in the fifth.

Indiana starter Pauley Milto threw six shutout innings with seven strikeouts and just three hits. Tim Herrin finished the job and allowed only one hit in the three innings he pitched.

“If you told me that we were going to go 7-2 in our first nine conference games on the road, I would’ve taken that,” Anderson said.