Gophers swept into Doubleheader by Rutgers

Baseball | 02/04/2022 16:48:00

Note from box 1 PISCATAWAY, NJ — The Minnesota Golden Gophers baseball team dropped both games of Saturday’s doubleheader against Rutgers.

Rutgers won Game 1, 11-2, and Game 2, 9-2. With Saturday’s two losses, Minnesota drops to 8-18 (0-3 Big Ten) and Rutgers moves to 21-6 (5-1 Big Ten).

First game
The Scarlet Knights took an early lead with two RBI singles on the Gophers starter JP Massey (2-3) to go up 2-0 after three sets. RU opened the game in the fourth inning, scoring seven runs to take a 9-0 lead.

The inning started with a first walk and a single before Massey got the first out on a fielder’s pick at third base. The next batter, Mike Nyisztor, singled left, scoring the first run of the inning. Massey was kicked out of the game after walking with Lasko to load the bases.

Upper right-handed Josh Culliver replaced Massey but could not get out of trouble. Back-to-back braces from Santa Maria and Cimillo tackled four more. Freshman left-handed Tucker Novotny replaced Culliver and eventually took the Gophers out of the inning, but not before RU tackled two more on a defender’s pick and a double steal of second and home with runners in the corners.

RU would add two more in the fifth on a sacrifice fly and solo home run while Minnesota scored its first run on an RBI single by Chase Stanke. Brady Counsell hit a solo home run in the eighth, his first career college home run. Counsell led the Gophers offensively, going 2 for 3 with a walk. Minnesota had six hits as a team.

First-year student Sam Malec (2.1) and junior red shirt Michael Gurka (0.2) pitched the last three innings for the Gophers, holding RU scoreless.

Massey took the loss on the mound after striking out five, walking four and allowing six earned runs in 3.1 innings. Nathan Florence (4-1) of the UK went 6.0 innings, striking out four and allowing an earned run.

second game
Right-handed junior redshirt Aidan Maldonado (1-3) went 3.2 innings, striking out five. He was charged with seven earned runs and four walks before going fourth. Offensively, Minnesota had five hits, with the big hit coming from Andrew Wilhite (1 for 3), who had a two-run home run.

Rutgers scored their first run late in the first inning. After a walk and a single the runners finished first and third with two outs, a wild pitch from Maldonado tackled RU leadoff batter Lasko.

Minnesota took its first series lead in the top of the third inning when Andrew Wilhite hit a two-run homer to center field, his second long pitch of the year. Maldonado worked on a pair of jams in the second and third innings to keep the Gophers ahead after three.

Rutgers’ big run again came in the fourth, where they scored six runs, including five with two outs. The frame started with a brace from Josh Kuroda-Grauer, who then went third on a sacrificial bunt. He would score on a wild pitch to tie the game at 2-2. With runners first and second, Maldonado knocked out Santa Maria for the second out. After walking the next batter, RU’s DiGeorgio hit a ground fly to third base, which was fielded by Jake Larson with a dive stop. A slight hesitation from Larson allowed the runners to score second and third as his pitch to home plate was not in time to catch the runner on second.

An infield single from RU’s Cimillo again loaded the bases. The Gophers had a chance to get out of the inning when first baseman Chris Brito threw a ball into the small left field, but a collision between the shortstop Drew Stahl and left fielder Andrew Wilhite allowed the ball to fall safely, clearing the goals and putting the Scarlet Knights ahead 7-2.

Minnesota went down the order from the fourth to the sixth innings. RU scored his eighth run of the afternoon on a two-out brace from Brito in the sixth. The Scarlet Knights would go one more in the bottom of the eighth to seal the 9-2 win.

The Gophers had five of their six hits in the first three innings. Starting in the fourth inning, Minnesota had only two men to reach base (a single and a walk).

Minnesota will host North Dakota State on Tuesday afternoon at Siebert Field in its home opener on campus. The Gophers begin their Big Ten home roster next weekend against Maryland.

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