Gophers fall to Wolverines in two of three

Freshman Fred Manke delivers a pitch on Sunday afternoon at Siebert Field.

James Healy

Freshman Fred Manke delivers a pitch on Sunday afternoon at Siebert Field.

by Ben Gotz

A downpour Friday night led to delayed play for a day, and that seemed to weigh down the Gophers’ bats when their series against Michigan finally began.
Minnesota had 17 hits against Michigan compared to 38 strikeouts at the plate over the weekend.
The team split a doubleheader with the Wolverines on Saturday, with a 2-1 victory and 4-2 loss, and then fell 12-3 in the rubber match Sunday, giving the team its fifth Big Ten series loss in six tries.
 
“It was a mixture of things,” redshirt sophomore pitcher Tim Shannon said after Saturday’s loss. “I think part of it is kind of letting down with two outs. As a pitching staff, a lot of our hits [allowed] have come [with] two outs.”
 
The Gophers struck out 14 times on Saturday afternoon and only scored two runs, but they still came away with the first game of the series thanks to a dominant performance by senior pitcher Ben Meyer.
 
Meyer said he never had to lobby to stay in during his first complete game of the season. With 123 pitches, he allowed only one earned run and struck out six batters.
 
“I thought I had the best slider I’ve had all year today,” Meyer said Saturday, mentioning his change-up also worked well against Michigan’s left-handed batters.
 
Meyer gave up a run in the first inning after allowing back-to-back hits from the Wolverines, but he was barely touched after that.
 
A three-hit fifth inning scored two of the Gophers’ runs, and the one-run lead was all Meyer needed for his fourth victory of the season.
 
In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, Shannon, who transferred to Minnesota from Michigan, took the mound.
 
The first batter Shannon faced, Jacob Cronenworth, was his roommate his first year at Michigan.
 
“It took a while to kind of calm down,” Shannon said. “Once the game got going, I was able to settle in and forget about that.”
 
The Wolverines scored two runs off their former pitcher in the second and fourth innings, but Shannon left with a no-decision after leadoff hitter Jordan Smith tied the game with a two-RBI single in the fifth inning.
 
The Wolverines took the lead again in the seventh inning when a runner reached first after a dropped third strike and was moved around the base paths.
 
Michigan added an insurance run in the ninth inning when a runner tagged up on a fly ball to move to third and then scored when second baseman Connor Schaefbauer lost the cutoff throw.
 
Mistakes in the field came back early Sunday to haunt the Gophers, as they dug themselves an early hole.
 
Catcher Matt Stemper missed a throw to third in the top of the second inning, allowing a runner to score. Another scored when Stemper missed a wild pitch from freshman Fred Manke.
 
After the Wolverines added a run off a squeeze play in the top of the third, shortstop Michael Handel and Stemper evened the game at three with two-out hits in the fifth inning.
 
But in a crushing six-run seventh inning, Michigan won the series. One run scored on a single, two runs walked in and a bases-clearing double scored the final three to blow the game open for the Wolverines.
 
Michigan scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, taking the series with a 12-3 victory.