Minnesota had another walk-off victory that almost didn't happen.
Gophers' sophomore Max Meyer had to convince head coach John Anderson to let him stay in the game for another at-bat on Tuesday night after he pinch hit in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"I didn't want to take a chance at him getting hurt," said Anderson about his starting pitcher for Friday's game. "He talked me into letting him go out there."
Anderson was glad he let him play. Meyer hit his first career home run, a two-run blast to right field, to beat North Dakota State (8-15) 4-3 in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday night at Siebert Field. It was the second walk-off win of the year for the Gophers.
"It was a tough at-bat," Meyer said. "He gave me that slider, and I was able to put a good swing on it."
North Dakota State led 3-1 after the top of the fourth inning before Meyer hit a base hit up the middle in the bottom of the seventh to score first baseman Cole McDevitt and cut the North Dakota State lead to 3-2. After a scoreless eighth inning, Gophers pitcher Ryan Duffy allowed two runners on and was pulled for closing pitcher Brett Schulze for the last two outs. Schulze threw six-straight strikes for two strikeouts to finish the top of the ninth inning and tally his fifth win of the year. He leads the Gophers with a 5-0 record and four saves this season.
"[I] just tried to attack guys right away, just tried not to wait," Schulze said. "That's kind of the goal ... trying to pick up everybody that goes before me, and just try to get outs quickly."
Sam Thoresen started on the mound for Minnesota. He tallied five strikeouts and allowed no hits or runs in his first three innings before he allowed three North Dakota State runs in the top of the fourth inning. Thoresen walked three batters to load the bases and then Bison infielder Charley Hesse narrowly beat a throw out at first to tie the score 1-1. Then, Thoresen walked the next batter to give North Dakota State the lead. Senior pitcher Jeff Fasching relieved Thoresen and walked his first batter with the bases loaded to increase the Bison lead to 3-1. But Fasching got the next batter to ground out, ending the inning.
Minnesota shortstop Jordan Kozicky gave the Gophers a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when he hit a double off the right field wall and scored designated hitter Eli Wilson from third base. It was Kozicky's team-leading 31st RBI of the season, followed in second place by McDevitt's 17.
Gophers' sophomore and preseason All-American pitcher Patrick Fredrickson pitched for one fly out in the top of the seventh inning and then Duffy relieved him. Fredrickson didn't start in last weekend's Big Ten series against Michigan as he usually does.
"He's having some discomfort in his arm. We didn't start him at Michigan for that reason," Anderson said. "Today he thought he felt better. He went out there and he didn't look good to me, and I told [assistant coach] Ty McDevitt, 'Let's get him out of there.'"
Anderson said that senior right hander Jake Stevenson (4.64 ERA) will start in his place.
The Gophers are scheduled to play Illinois this weekend at Siebert Field Friday through Sunday in the next Big Ten series. However, there is a snowstorm forecasted for late in the week which could postpone or cancel some games.