Gophers sweep doubleheader against NDSU

Sara Moulton started both games and picked up two wins.

Gophers infielder Tyler Walker slides to third base during Wednesday's game against North Dakota State at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Gophers infielder Tyler Walker slides to third base during Wednesday’s game against North Dakota State at the Jane Sage Cowles Stadium.

Betsy Helfand

Gophers ace Sara Moulton started the first game of the team’s doubleheader with North Dakota State with a strikeout.

And then another.

And then six more.

Moulton finished with 10 strikeouts, and the Gophers won, 4-0.

She also started the second game, which the team won 5-0, and improved her overall record to 20-11.

In the first game, Minnesota scored two runs in the first inning without getting a hit.

The team loaded the bases on walks and scored on a walk by Madie Eckstrom and a sacrifice fly by Alex Davis.

The third and fourth runs came via a double by catcher Kari Dorle in the third inning.

That was enough for Moulton, who allowed just one hit in five innings. 

“It definitely set the tone of the game for me,” Moulton said about starting the game with eight straight strikeouts. “The second time through the order we started mixing more pitches in because they were getting on our pitches, but our defense made all the plays [when] they started putting the ball in play.”

Alissa Koch pitched two innings of relief and allowed one hit.

The Gophers went into the doubleheader outscoring opponents 50-10 in the fourth inning.

“We’ve got some very, very good hitters at the top of the order, and I think that’s them making adjustments,” head coach Jessica Allister said.

They did not score in the fourth inning of the first game, but they scored four runs in the second game.

Shortstop Tyler Walker collected the team’s first hit, a double off the left field wall in the fourth inning.

 Left fielder Erica Meyer and third basemen Kaitlyn Richardson contributed RBIs before Eckstrom hit her fourth home run of the year.

Dorle added a home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to push the score to 5-0.

Moulton once again turned in a stellar performance, pitching six innings, striking out 10 and giving up just two hits.

Koch pitched the seventh inning and gave up a one-out double but escaped unscathed thanks to a diving catch by second baseman Erika Smyth.

On recent days, when the Gophers have played doubleheaders, Moulton has started one game and Koch the other.

“We asked her to come out and take the ball twice, and she did a phenomenal job of going after the hitters and setting the tone that we needed,” Allister said of Moulton.

Allister said the team has talked about finding “confident urgency,” because the team has “fluctuated between sitting back and letting at-bats pass us by and being so tense that we can’t operate.”

She said she thought the team did a nice job of finding it in today’s game.

It is something the Gophers will need this weekend when they host No. 20 Michigan. 

The Wolverines (31-11, 11-1 Big Ten) sport a 1.83 team ERA, which is first in the Big Ten. Minnesota is second.

Michigan’s Haylie Wagner is second in the conference with a 1.45 ERA. Moulton is first.

The Gophers will face a Wolverines team that has lost just one of its eight games in April.

The Wolverines will come into town on a four-game winning streak. They swept the conference’s worst team, Michigan State, last weekend and beat Central Michigan on Tuesday.

“Michigan is a really good team. We know how good they are, but if we play our game, I think we can beat them,” Moulton said.