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Gopher baseball avoids sweep in Big Ten opener

Minnesota took the series finale to end a five-game losing streak.
Image by Kelly Hagenson
Pitcher Sam Ireland throws from the mound at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn. in a game against the United States Air Force Academy Falcons on March 11, 2022. Photo courtesy of Gopher Athletics.

The Gophers had their first home series at Siebert Field over the weekend, but failed to grab a series win. Maryland took the first two games, but Minnesota scored a late run in the third game to win its first conference game.

Game One:

Starter Sam Ireland struggled in the Big Ten home opener as Maryland got on the board early with a pair of runs in the first. The Minnesota offense was up for the challenge and tied the game with a solo shot and three singles in the first.

After back-to-back shutout innings, Maryland got to Ireland again and the Gopher ace quickly allowed three more earned runs as the Terrapins got a 6-2 lead. The bullpen wasn’t able to quiet down the offense as Maryland grabbed five more runs between the sixth and eighth innings.

Minnesota tried to stay on pace with the Terps, but couldn’t get the game closer than four runs after the sixth inning. Maryland took the opener 11-7.

Game Two

It was another early offensive pounce from Maryland for the second game in a row grabbing the first lead of the game. Starter J.P. Massey went just over three innings, in which he gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks. The Terps got a 5-0 lead before Minnesota got on the board.

The Gopher offense slowly chipped away at the five-run deficit. They grabbed a run in each the fourth and sixth inning, and put up a crooked number in the seventh to cut the lead to just one. It wasn’t enough to complete the comeback even with five straight shutout innings from the Gopher bullpen.

Minnesota dropped a close one as Maryland secured a series win 5-4.

Game Three

It was Minnesota’s turn to strike first in the series finale. A single and a double got the Gophers on the board, followed by a groundout that put Minnesota up 2-0 after the first frame. The two offenses traded runs in the second and third which allowed the Gophers to keep a two-run lead.

Starter Aidan Maldonado had an impressive outing to put Minnesota in a prime spot to take the finale. Maldonado went six innings and allowed just one run on seven hits while striking out five. He would’ve been set up for a win, but Maryland got to reliever Seth Clausen and tied the game at 3-3 in the seventh.

Second baseman Brady Counsell hit a two-out triple in the eighth and scored on a passed ball to retake the lead for the Gophers. Reliever Tom Skoro came in for the save and struck out the side to give Minnesota its first conference win with a  4-3 victory over the Terrapins.

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