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    Wildcats Ground Gophers to Split B1G Doubleheader

    March 22, 2014

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    Game Photo
    Minnesota Golden Gophers Northwestern 4, Minnesota 3
    Minnesota 5, Northwestern 1
    Lou Brock Sports Complex • St. Charles, Mo.

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    ST. CHARLES, Mo. -- Northwestern opened its Big Ten slate Saturday against the Minnesota Golden Gophers by splitting a doubleheader at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo. The Wildcats fell in the opener, 5-1, but rallied to post a one-run victory in the nightcap, 4-3.

    In the second of the two contests, it was the Wildcats that jumped on Minnesota early. Jake Schieber led off NU's half of the first with a single, but he was forced out a second base when Scott Heelan reached on a fielder's choice. After a groundout and a wild pitch, the backstop scored on Zach Jones' hustle double to center field.

    Chicago's Big Ten Team added on again in the bottom of the second inning. Joe Hoscheit drew a base on balls before designated hitter Reid Hunter slashed a single into left field. Nick Linne was hit by a pitch on a bunt attempt to load the bases for Cody Stevens. NU's shortstop hit a grounder to Connor Schaefbauer at second base, which he fielded and tagged Linne for the first out. Hoscheit scored, but when Schaefbauer tried to throw on to first to get the speedy Stevens, the throw was off line, which allowed Hunter to score as well. After two innings, the Wildcats led 3-0.

    Staked to an early edge, sophomore Reed Mason worked diligently through Minnesota's lineup the first two innings. In the top of the third the visitors put two on with nobody out but the left-hander got two fly balls and grounder to Linne to end the threat.

    Mason gave up a pair of unearned runs in the top of the fourth, but his teammates were able to get one of them right back in the bottom of the frame off the Gophers. Stevens singled before moving to second and eventually scoring on a pair of wild pitches. That run gave the Wildcats a 4-2 lead after four.

    Jordan Smith, after hitting a ground-rule double off of Mason, scored on an error to pull Minnesota within a run, but that was as close as it would come.

    Ethan Bramschreiber relieved Mason after six innings in which he allowed only the three unearned runs. The senior tossed 2.2 scoreless innings with two strikeouts. Jack Quigley came in to record the final out and secure his second save of the season.

    Stevens had two hits in game two, while four different players scored for the 'Cats.

    In game one, the Gophers got off to a quick start in the opener by picking up four runs before NU even had the chance to come to the plate. Tony Skjefte hit a one-out single before the next two hitters drew bases on balls from Wildcats' starter Brandon Magallones. Michael Handel then hit a grand slam to give Minnesota a 4-0 cushion.

    Magallones settled down and by the bottom of the fifth it looked as if Northwestern's offense was ready to pick up its pace. Jack Mitchell, Nick Linne and Cody Stevens all singled with one away to load the bases, but Minnesota starter Alec Crawford registered back-to-back strikeouts to escape the frame unscathed.

    Heelan and Zach Jones both notched singles to kick off the bottom of the sixth inning before Hoscheit was erased on a bang-bang double play and Crawford secured another punch out to keep the 'Cats off the scoreboard.

    Northwestern finally broke through in the home half of the seventh. Mitchell picked up a lead-off single and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt from Linne. Stevens singled to left field to push Mitchell to third base and Matt Hopfner drove in his team's first run of the game with a solid single into center field. The base hit extended Hopfner's hitting streak to a team-high nine games.

    Magallones was done after seven innings and he was spelled by senior right-hander Nick Friar. The Westport, Massachusetts, native worked a 1-2-3 eighth before the Gophers scratched out another tally in the top of the ninth. Schaefbauer drew a lead-off walk, stole second and scored on Skjefte's base hit to left field.

    Heelan, Jake Schieber and Jack Mitchell all collected three hits in the first game of the day. Magallones took his second loss of the season, while Crawford secured his second win. Dalton Sawyer pitched two scoreless innings to close the game, enough to earn his third save of the campaign.

    The first Big Ten series of the season concludes Sunday at Lindenwood University. The Wildcats and Golden Gophers will reconvene at 1 p.m. Sophomore southpaw Matt Portland is expected to start for the 'Cats; he's scheduled to be opposed by Minnesota's Ben Meyer.

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