The Gophers dropped their first midweek game of the season on Tuesday, ending a five-game winning streak.
No. 19 Minnesota (25-12) traveled to North Dakota State and lost to the Bison 7-4.
“Obviously, we don’t want to lose, and it was a tough one to swallow,” redshirt junior outfielder Troy Traxler said. “[We’ve] just got to shake it off, try and fix a few things up fundamentally in practice the next few days.”
After two dominant pitching performances carried the Gophers last weekend, the team struggled in all aspects of the game on Tuesday.
Redshirt junior Tim Shannon started the game and entered the second inning with a 3-0 lead, but he allowed three runs to the Bison in the bottom of the inning.
Freshman Jake Stevenson took the mound in the third, and the first three batters he faced reached on a hit batsman, a walk and a throwing error by the rookie pitcher.
Stevenson was relieved by junior Tyler Hanson without recording an out, and all three of the base runners he left on scored to give North Dakota State a 6-3 lead.
The Gophers cut their deficit by one in the top of the fourth inning, but the Bison responded with another run of their own in the bottom of the inning.
Minnesota’s offense — which outhit its opponents 423-271 prior to Tuesday — recorded just eight hits to North Dakota State’s 11 in the game.
“I don’t think we could get anything strong together [on offense] like we have,” freshman catcher Cole McDevitt said. “But the bats will come, and we’re not worried about that.”
Freshman pitcher Nick Lackney was a bright spot for the Gophers, pitching two scoreless innings to preserve his perfect ERA.
Redshirt senior reliever Ty McDevitt also pitched a scoreless inning in the eighth.
While some of Minnesota’s pitchers struggled, the team’s defense made mistakes, too. The Gophers defense, which entered the game with the fewest errors in the Big Ten, made three errors Tuesday night.
“I thought that [the pitchers] did a decent job getting balls on the ground,” sophomore third baseman Micah Coffey said. “So from a pitching standpoint, it’s hard to argue that they didn’t do a good job when we can’t really back them up.”
On offense, Traxler drove in three of the Gophers runs with an RBI single and a groundout. Cole McDevitt drove in the team’s other run with an RBI single in the first inning.
Coffey and senior outfielder Dan Motl both added two hits in the loss.
“We got things going early; we started up 3-0,” Traxler said. “It was a little frustrating at the end, but we tried sticking with our approach.”