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Gophers Big Ten Tournament hopes dwindling

Minnesota baseball ended a six-game losing streak with a win last Wednesday against St. Thomas. They lost their two most recent games to Nebraska though.
Image by CJ Bonk
Minnesota will host the Michigan Wolverines next in a three-game series starting Friday.

After being swept by Illinois on April 23, Minnesota headed back home to host North Dakota State and St. Thomas on a five-game losing streak last Tuesday and Wednesday .

The Gophers faced off against North Dakota State last Tuesday night in a game they would fall 10-3. Minnesota quickly bounced back on Wednesday night with a 9-4 win over St. Thomas.

Following their win against St. Thomas, the Gophers played a three-game series against Nebraska in Lincoln on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Minnesota won the first game 9-7 but fell to Nebraska in the last two games.

April 25 vs. NDSU

After a road trip over the weekend, the Gophers looked drained heading into the Tuesday game against the Bison.

North Dakota State took full advantage, jumping out to a 7-0 lead. Gophers pitcher Sam Malec had a solid start coming back from an injury going 3 innings, only allowing 2 runs on 2 hits.

It was a forgettable day on the mound for Caden Capomaccio, who allowed 5 runs and only recorded two outs. The Bison made it 10-0 in the top of the 8th inning.

Minnesota avoided the shutout by adding 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning. Brady Counsell, with an RBI single, and Ike Mezzenga, with a sacrifice fly, supplied the runs.

Riley Swenson also added to his now team-leading home run total with a solo shot in the 9th, making it 6 homers on the year.

The final score ended up 10-3 in a Bison victory in what was their 38th straight game on the road. North Dakota State has yet to play a home game this season.

April 26 vs. St. Thomas

Minnesota started off the game on the front foot with a 2-run home run off the bat of Counsell.

However, the Tommies immediately responded with 3 runs of their own in the next half-inning. Ben Shepard made his 6th start of the season and began a little shaky, but ended up having a solid start pitching 6 innings, allowing 4 runs on 4 hits.

The Minnesota bats came to life, scoring 6 runs in the bottom of the second. Counsell continued his incredible day at the plate with a 2-run double. Jake Perry added a 2-run double of his own that made it 8-3 Gophers.

Both teams would tack on another run in a game that would end 9-4. Minnesota stopped its five-game losing streak and extended the Tommies losing streak to four games.

April 28-30 vs. Nebraska

An important conference series for the Gophers Big Ten tournament aspirations started with a bang. Minnesota jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the first two innings with a solo home run from Kyle Bork, his first of the season.

The Cornhuskers responded with 4 unanswered runs, holding a 5-4 lead going into the final frame.

A one hopper to the shortstop from Mezzenga was bobbled and bounced into the outfield, allowing Brett Bateman to tie the game.

With the bases loaded, Jake Perry walked, putting Minnesota ahead 6-5. Freshman Kris Hokenson stepped into the box with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the 9th inning.

Hokenson delivered a bases-clearing double to put the Gophers on top 9-5 and secured Game 1 for Minnesota. Nebraska added two more runs in the bottom of the 9th, but Minnesota held on for a 9-7 victory.

The second game was one to forget for Minnesota fans as Nebraska posted a dominant 18-0 win. Pitching was not the only issue for the Gophers; the offense only produced 5 hits all game.

Three of Minnesota’s hits came off the bat of Boston Merila who went a perfect 3/3 at the plate.

It was an offensive explosion from the Cornhuskers, who were led by Max Anderson, who went 4/6 with 2 HRs and 4 RBIs.

In Game 3, it immediately felt like deja vu after Nebraska posted 9 unanswered runs in the first four innings. Another rough game for Minnesota was headlined by Hokenson, who launched his first career home run to make it 9-3 in the 6th inning.

The Gophers dropped the third game of the series though, falling 11-5 to Nebraska. A series loss to the Cornhuskers means Minnesota falls to 12-30 on the season and 5-10 in the Big Ten.

Next on the schedule is a series against the Michigan Wolverines at home starting Friday. The Gophers may have caught the Wolverines at the perfect time; Michigan is on a three-game losing streak ahead of their midweek game against Kent State.

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