Gophers Fall to Ohio State in Conference Semi-Finals
OMAHA, Neb. (gophersports.com) – Despite a valiant rally against the Ohio State bullpen, the Gopher baseball team could not overcome a seven-run deficit falling Sunday and the season is over.
The Gophers lost 8-6 against the Buckeyes after coming through the elimination bracket to force a decisive game two in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.
Minnesota (29-27) trailed 8-1 into the bottom of the seventh when the Gopher offense exploded for five runs against reliever T.J. Brock. Jack Wassel and Eduardo Estrada, Jr. each walked to start the rally before rookie Chase Stanke came through with an RBI single. Ben Mezzenga ripped an RBI double to the gap to add another run, and the Stanke took advantage of a passed ball to trim the lead to 8-4. Jordan Kozicky clubbed his 11th home run of the season into the Minnesota bullpen to cut the lead to just two.
Patrick Fredrickson (2-5) made his second start of the tournament for Minnesota, collecting five strikeouts – each looking – as he worked into the fourth inning. Brady Cherry ended his day with a two-run home run to left, starting the scoring for Ohio State (34-25). The Buckeyes were not done in the fourth, plating four runs facing a pair of Gopher relievers. They'd add two runs in both the fifth and sixth against the Minnesota bullpen
After Mezzenga and Zack Raabe started the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles, Seth Lonsway (8-4) settled in and did not allow another base runner until Riley Smith's lead-off single in the fifth. Smith would eventually score the first run of the day for the Gophers on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Mezzenga. Lonsway finished with 5.0 innings pitched, allowing just the one run on four hits with six strikeouts.
The lefty Brock finished his day allowing five earned runs on just three hits in 1.2 innings when Ohio State turned to its closer Andrew Magno for the last out of the seventh. Magno did not allow a hit in 2.1 innings to earn his 13th save of the season.