The Gophers took on Nebraska, the defending Big Ten regular season champion, in a three-game series over the weekend.
Minnesota made sure the Cornhuskers conference play did not get off to a hot start this year.
Minnesota (16-9, 2-1 Big Ten) took the first conference series of the year after winning 2-0 over Nebraska, on Sunday at Hawks Field to give the team two wins and one loss for the second weekend series in a row.
"I tip my hat to our guys, I thought they competed, played hard, and were determined after yesterday come back and win the series," Gophers head coach John Anderson said.
The series against the Cornhuskers (13-11, 1-2 Big Ten) was decided on Sunday after a 2-0 game that featured freshman pitcher Patrick Fredrickson on the mound. Fredrickson pitched seven shutout innings and struck out six. On offense, outfielder Ben Mezzenga hit a single into shallow right-center field in the fifth inning, which scored the only two runs of the game.
"It was a situation that I like to be in and I was glad that my teammates had worked hard to get into scoring position," Mezzenga said. "I was just trying to put a good swing on the ball, and hopefully a good thing was going to happen, and it did."
Mezzenga and catcher Eli Wilson led the team's batters with two hits each on the day. Max Meyer recorded his sixth save of the year coming in at cleanup for the Gophers in the eighth inning.
Minnesota takes game one
The first victory came for the Gophers on the back of Alex Boxwell, who missed nine games earlier in the year with a wrist injury. He stepped up to the plate and drove in four of the five runs the Gophers scored in the 5-1 victory.
“It was just good to be back,” Boxwell said. “Being able to help the team out was obviously a plus. My teammates got me in a pretty good position to do some good things."
Reggie Meyer pitched eight innings with the save coming from Nebraska native Jackson Rose in the ninth in the first Big Ten game of the year for Minnesota.
Saturday saw Nebraska score eight runs, kickstarted by Nebraska’s Scott Schreiber who had two home runs in his first two at bats. The Gophers couldn't replicate their batting from the game before, resulting in the first conference loss of the season.
"All weekend he was seeing the ball well and hitting it," Fredrickson said. "But he's a really talented player, and he's one of Nebraska's best hitters."
The Gophers scored two runs in the fourth inning to bring them back in the game at 4-2, but they couldn’t generate anymore and the Cornhuskers took the second game of the weekend 8-2.
"I definitely think conference [play] is more challenging," Mezzenga said. "They know what we've done previous times against them, so it definitely brings a challenge to us, and I think the first weekend we really met that."
St. John's (11-7) comes to U.S. Bank Stadium to take on Minnesota in another three-game series starting on Thursday.