Gophers Win Big 10 Title, Will Host NCAA Tournament Regional
OMAHA, Neb. – The Gopher Baseball team claimed the tenth Big Ten Championship in program history, defeating Purdue 6-4 in a back-and-forth battle in Sunday’s tournament final to earn the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
No. 11 Minnesota (41-13) came back from down a run on three separate occasions in the contest. Purdue scored first, taking advantage of a pair of two-out hits in the first inning against starter Nick Lackney, who would settle in to allow just the one run while striking out three in 4.0 innings.
Eli Wilson started the scoring against Purdue (37-19) as he lifted a solo home run on the first pitch of the second inning, and Terrin Vavra gave the Gophers their first lead with a solo shot of his own in the third against starter Andrew Bohm, who surrendered just the two runs on three hits in 3.0 innings of work. The Boilermakers scored a pair of runs in the fifth against reliever Brett Schulze with an RBI single by Skyler Hunter and a double by Jacson McGowan.
The Maroon & Gold were quick to answer when Toby Hanson led off the fifth with a single, advancing a base on Luke Pettersen’s sacrifice bunt and coming in to score on an RBI single by Ben Mezzenga. Purdue had two, two-out hits in the sixth against Schulze, eventually scoring the go-ahead run. Sam Thoresen (2-2) entered for the final out of the inning, getting some help from his defense as the Gophers caught Hunter Shipley leaning on a pick-off by catcher Eli Wilson.
Minnesota took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth against Trevor Cheaney (1-2). Alex Boxwell, Pettersen, and Mezzenga all singled in the inning, with the latter two hits providing the game-tying and go-ahead runs.
The Gophers received a top-16 seed in the 2018 NCAA Baseball Tournament and will host the Minneapolis Regional from Friday, June 1 to Monday, June 4 on campus at Siebert Field. This marks the first time Minnesota will host NCAA Baseball Tournament action in Minneapolis since hosting the Minneapolis Regional in 2000.