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Minnesota baseball swept; Hawkeyes outscore Gophers 31-2

Pitchers struggled, and the bats failed to come alive as Minnesota dropped all three games in Iowa.
Gopher Batter Jack Wassel follows through his swing in U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, March 7. The Gophers lost to Indiana, 8-1. (Audrey Rauth)

The Gophers’ baseball team didn’t find much luck in its weekend trip to Iowa City, where it accumulated just two runs in three games. After a series-opening loss, Saturday’s game got rained out to make way for a doubleheader on Sunday. Neither game went well for the Gophers, who were on the wrong side of an 18-0 blowout in the finale.

Sam Ireland’s no-hit bid ends rough on Friday

Starting pitcher Sam Ireland gave the Gophers as good of a start as you could ask for. He was nearly perfect through four innings, having a no-hitter going into the fifth frame. That’s when things turned to the worse for Minnesota, ultimately ending in a 7-1 loss.

Though Ireland wasn’t docked for any earned runs, the Hawkeyes plated six runs in the fifth inning. Ireland finished the inning and pitched a shutout frame in the sixth inning before his day ended. He finished the night with seven strikeouts while allowing just three hits and three walks.

Ireland, unfortunately, was given his third loss of the season, which doesn’t at all speak to the ace’s pitching performance this season. Ireland consistently has given Minnesota a shot to get out in front and set themselves in a position to win.

The opener was similar to the rest of Ireland’s outings. Although Minnesota picked up seven hits across the first five innings, no runners could cross the plate. Over the last four innings, the Gophers picked up just four more hits, including a double from junior Zack Raabe, who later scored for the lone run in the ninth.

Gophers on wrong end of longball Saturday

In the second game of the series, the two teams scored seven runs, and all came off home runs. Minnesota was responsible for just one, while Iowa hit four of its own to take the second game of the series 6-1 on Saturday.

With starting pitcher Jack Liffrig on the bump, the Gophers kept the game competitive through six innings. After Iowa plated the first run on a solo shot in the second, senior Ronald Sweeny got Minnesota right back in the third with a solo shot of his own. That was about it for Minnesota on the offensive end.

Liffrig gave up another solo shot in the third to give Iowa’s one-run lead. He followed that with three straight shutout frames to keep the Hawkeyes in check and Minnesota a chance to come back.

No luck came for the Gophers, and Liffrig gave up his third home run of the game in the seventh, this being a two-run shot, to extend Iowa’s lead, 4-1. Liffrig ended a solid outing after seven innings while allowing just four runs. He gave up nine hits Saturday, struck out one and didn’t allow any free bases on walks.

The Hawkeyes plated two more in the eighth inning to extend their lead to five runs, ultimately the final score.

Gophers blew out in series finale

The final game in the series was over as fast as it started for Minnesota, which found itself in a big hole after just two innings.

At the second end of the doubleheader, Iowa used its momentum from the first game and jumped out right away on the Gophers. A seven-run inning in the first frame started with a 2-RBI single, and the Hawkeyes followed up with four different RBI doubles.

The Gophers needed two pitchers to get through the first inning after coaches removed starting pitcher Trent Schoeberl after allowing five runs. Reliever Nolan Burchill didn’t have any more luck as he escaped the first after allowing two runs. Coaches pulled him after failing to pick up an out in the second while allowing two more runs.

The damage continued to pile up as the Hawkeyes scored three more in the second and were up 12-0 after just two innings. Iowa finished things up by plating a run in the fourth, two in seventh and three in the eighth.

Minnesota didn’t help its cause as the team committed three errors in total and tallied just five hits in the game. The Gophers dropped the series finale 18-0.

Next weekend

Minnesota returns home to host No. 25 Michigan in a three-game series as it looks to end its four-game losing streak.

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