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Gophers baseball opens conference play with series win

Minnesota claimed two out of three games versus Ohio State this past weekend.
Image by CJ Bonk
Minnesota will host the Michigan Wolverines next in a three-game series starting Friday.

The Gophers traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to take on Ohio State for their first Big Ten series of the season.

Ohio State was swept in their first Big Ten series by Indiana the weekend prior, so the Gophers looked to take advantage of the already struggling Buckeyes.

March 31 at Ohio State

Minnesota took to the plate first on the rainy Friday evening. Boston Merila managed a hit for the Gophers in the top of the second inning, but nothing came of it.

Ohio State would get on the board first in the bottom of the second, scoring 2 runs off of a single to center field that allowed two Buckeyes to score.

The Gophers began to put the pressure on in the top of the fifth inning, getting a man on first and third with only one out. Unfortunately, Minnesota was unable to convert, with two players striking out on back-to-back at-bats.

In the top of the ninth, Minnesota’s Brady Counsell hit a home run to left-center to put the Gophers within 1 run.

Immediately after, Weber Neels would follow suit with a home run to left-center to tie the game at 2-2.

After two Gophers struck out, Merila got on base after being hit by a pitch. On the next at-bat, Jake Perry hit a double to right-center, allowing Merila to score and give Minnesota the 1-run lead.

Seth Clausen came into the game to close for Minnesota and tied off the Gophers’ 3-2 comeback win.

April 1 at Ohio State

Saturday afternoon the Gophers took to Bill Davis Stadium once again to face the Buckeyes in Game 2 of the series.

Once again, Ohio State got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning.

In the ensuing inning, Neels hit a single to left field, allowing Brett Bateman to score and cut the Buckeyes’ lead in half.

Sam Hunt leveled the game at 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning with a double to right field that allowed Merila to score.

Unlike their last game, Ohio State responded immediately, reclaiming their 2-run lead in the bottom of the fourth inning.

The Buckeyes tacked on 2 more in the bottom of the eighth inning to win the game 6-2.

April 2 at Ohio State

The two teams met one final time on Sunday afternoon to determine who would win the series.

For the third time in this series, Ohio State would strike first, scoring in the bottom of the first inning.

However, Minnesota responded with a massive inning in the top of the second. After loading the bases, Counsell was hit by a pitch and allowed Hunt to score to tie the game.

On the following at-bat, Perry hit a single to right-center, permitting Kyle Bork and Jake Larson to score.

Ohio State pitcher Jake Johnson replaced George Eisenhardt at the mound with hopes to stop the bleeding.

This attempt was to no avail; Bateman doubled to right field, allowing Counsell to score; Perry scored on a passed ball to put the Gophers up 5-1.

In the top of the fourth inning, Bateman singled to left field, enabling Bork to score.

The Buckeyes scored once more, but Minnesota prevailed with a dominant 6-2 victory to claim their first Big Ten series win of the season.

Bateman totaled 3 hits and 2 RBIs in the win, while pitcher Richie Holetz had 8 strikeouts in six innings pitched.

The Gophers earned two wins in the series against the Buckeyes, putting them in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten standings.

Minnesota’s next two games, against St. Thomas and South Dakota State, were canceled due to inclement weather, meaning their next game will be Friday at 5 p.m. when they host Purdue at Siebert Field.

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