Baseball falls to winless Minnesota

By Zachary Bertram, Sports Reporter

DeKALB – The Huskies (3-9) were defeated by the University of Minnesota (1-11) 5-3 Tuesday at U.S. Bank Stadium – home of the Minnesota Vikings – highlighted by a go-ahead home-run from redshirt senior catcher Riley Swenson in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Gophers were able to secure their first victory of the season.

Redshirt senior pitcher Cam Blazek earned the win for Minnesota, while NIU junior pitcher D.J. Hess suffered the loss.

The difference in the game was defense. Each team had eight hits, but the Gophers played clean defense committing zero errors, while NIU committed two errors.

Sophomore pitcher Conner Lutes got the start on the mound for NIU, throwing two perfect innings. Redshirt senior pitcher Ben Shepard got the nod for Minnesota, striking out seven batters and giving up two runs in five innings of work.

NIU opened the scoring in the top of the third inning with a two out rally. Junior right fielder Eric Erato doubled to score senior center fielder Malik Peters to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead. Junior shortstop Andre Demetral followed with an RBI single to score Erato, putting NIU up 2-0.

Minnesota answered by scoring two runs off of sophomore pitcher Tommy Meyer in the fourth inning. Redshirt sophomore infielder Ike Mezzenga got the Gophers on the board with an RBI groundout to score junior center fielder Brett Bateman. Sophomore second baseman Brady Counsell scored on a throwing error later in the inning, tying the score at two.

Swenson’s go-ahead two-run shot came in the bottom of the sixth inning off of Hess. The home run gave Minnesota a 4-2 lead. The Gophers added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh inning with an RBI single from Mezzenga to score Bateman, putting the Gophers up 5-2.

The Huskies had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth with one out and two runners in scoring position, but were only able to muster one run. An RBI groundout from junior third baseman Aaron Harper allowed Peters to score his second run of the game, cutting the Gopher lead to 5-3.

Sophomore pitcher Seth Clausen closed out the ninth for Minnesota with a three up, three down inning to earn the save.

The Huskies will look to bounce back this weekend with their first conference games – a road series against Kent State. NIU will take on the Golden Flashes at 1 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.