The Minnesota Golden Gophers baseball team took down the Penn State Nittany Lions 7-3 on Friday night at Siebert Field.
With the win, Minnesota head coach John Anderson became the first manager in Big Ten history to hit 600 conference wins (600-390). His 1,342 overall wins rank him 21st all-time in collegiate baseball history, and No. 2 among active managers behind Grand View’s (NAIA) Lou Yacinich (1,350 wins).
Junior right-hander Sam Ireland (4-3) struck out nine in 7.0 innings, allowing four hits and just two earned runs. Penn State (15-20, 5-8 Big Ten) starter Jaden Henline (0-2) was chased out after 4.2 innings. He allowed six runs (five earned) on either hits with two strikeouts in his outing.
Offensively, the Gophers (11-24, 2-8 Big Ten) were led by Andrew Wilhite (3-for-3) and Brett Bateman (2-for-4), who each doubled, singled and scored twice. As a team, Minnesota tallied 11 hits.
Penn State started the scoring with a run in the top of the first. Left fielder Cole Bartels started the game with a four-pitch walk and came around to score when No. 3 hitter Matt Wood tripled into the right field corner.
The Gophers answered back in the bottom of the frame with a run of their own. Brett Bateman led off the game with a double to left field and advanced to third on Boston Merila’s single in the next at-bat. Chase Stanke then grounded into a 4-6-3 double play that plated Bateman.
Minnesota would add another in the bottom of the second to go up 2-1. With two outs and no one on, Brady Counsell reached on a fielding error by the PSU third baseman. Ronald Sweeny then doubled down the right field line and Andrew Wilhite was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Counsell would come around to score on a wild throw on a pick off attempt by Nittany Lions starting pitcher Jaden Henline.
Both teams were held scoreless in the third and fourth innings before PSU tied it up in the top of the fifth. After a one-out walk, Bartels doubled to right center, putting runners on second and third. A sacrifice fly to left by PSUs Jay Harry tied the game at 2-2.
A wild bottom of the fifth inning that featured five Gophers hits and another PSU error put the home team up 6-2. Wilhite and Bateman each singled to start the inning. With Merila at the plate, PSU’s Henline tried to pick off Bateman at first, but his wild throw sailed and Wilhite came around to score. After Merila flew out to left, Stanke doubled off the left field wall, scoring Bateman. Jack Kelly then reached on a fielder’s choice and Stanke was tagged out after being caught in a rundown. Kelly would come around to score when Kyle Bork blooped a fly ball into short center field that dropped in for an RBI double. Counsell would drive in Kelly with an RBI double down the right field line to put the home team up by four.
Minnesota would add one more in the bottom of the sixth. Wilhite doubled to start the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Bateman. He scored on a wild pitch by PSU reliever Jordan Morales.
Ireland (2.0 innings) and left-hander Tom Skoro (1.0) sent the Nittany Lions down in order in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Ireland struck out four of the final six hitters he faced before departing with 99 pitches thrown through seven innings.
Skoro ran into some trouble in the ninth as the Nittany Lions loaded up the bases with nobody out. The Gophers were able to weather the storm with plenty of cushion, allowing just one more run to win 7-3.
(info and photos courtesy of Gopher Sports)