The Gophers were shut out for the first time in a calendar year during the second game of Friday’s doubleheader against Illinois.
Minnesota’s bats came back with a vengeance on Sunday, roughing up the Illini for 14 runs on 18 hits to take the rubber match and clinch the series.
The 14-6 victory came after No. 19 Minnesota (27-13, 11-3 Big Ten) split Friday’s doubleheader with a 3-1 victory in the first game and a 2-0 defeat in the second.
Minnesota has yet to lose a series in conference play and still stands alone atop the Big Ten standings after the weekend.
“We know we have a great offense. We kind of got lulled to sleep a little bit in the doubleheader. Guys were tired,” sophomore outfielder Alex Boxwell said. “But it was great to see the whole squad respond and knock the ball around a little bit [on Sunday]. It was fun.”
Junior pitcher Toby Anderson followed up his complete game shutout last week with a five-inning outing on Sunday. He gave up two runs on seven hits to improve to 6-0 on the season.
Minnesota gave Anderson plenty of run support early, scoring five runs on six hits in the second inning to take a 5-0 lead.
The Gophers’ bats later added nine more runs on the way to the victory.
Boxwell, junior catcher Austin Athmann and sophomore third baseman Micah Coffey all recorded home runs for Minnesota to lead the offense.
Coffey also added two doubles and drove in a team-leading four RBIs.
“I think we got back to the same approach that we’ve had all year, and balls were falling [on Sunday],” Coffey said. “We were able to pick good pitches to swing at and drive balls into the gap.”
An outburst from the offense came after the Gophers were shut out 2-0 in the second game on Friday.
The Gophers offense recorded eight hits in the game but failed to score, marring a quality start from senior pitcher Dalton Sawyer. Sawyer pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits while striking out six in the loss.
Junior Matt Fiedler led the team in the first game of the doubleheader, pitching seven innings while allowing just one run.
He also recorded two hits on the day, along with Boxwell and senior outfielder Dan Motl.
Coffey said Fiedler continues to impress his teammates with his success as a two-way player. Fiedler currently boasts a 7-2 record and a 3.36 earned run average, while leading the team with a .396 batting average.
“His preparation is unbelievable,” Coffey said. “He’s always making sure that he has his priorities straight, making sure he takes care of his arm and gets his work done in the cage. … I’ve been so impressed with what he’s been able to do.”