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    Northwestern Falls in Pitchers' Duel to Minnesota, 4-2

    Kyle Ruchim hit his first home run of the season Friday afternoon.

    Kyle Ruchim hit his first home run of the season Friday afternoon.

    April 12, 2013

    Box Score |  Photo Gallery 

     vs. Minnesota
     Box Score  MINN 4, NU 2
     Records  NU 14-11 (4-6 B1G), Minnesota 20-13 (5-2 B1G)
     Next NU Event
     vs. Minnesota (Evanston, Ill.), April 13, 1:00 p.m.

    EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern took the field at Rocky Miller Park for the first time this season against a Big Ten foe Friday, but the Minnesota Golden Gophers spoiled the occasion with a 4-2 victory on a wet and windy afternoon in Evanston, Ill.

    The Gophers (20-13, 5-2 Big Ten) used a three-run eighth-inning rally to break a 1-1 tie against Northwestern (14-11, 4-6 Big Ten) and starting pitcher Zach Morton. Morton had been quite efficient in surrendering just one unearned run to the visitors before running into trouble in the top of the eighth.

    Minnesota's leading hitter, Andy Henkemeyer, led off the frame with a base hit to right field. Then Michael Handel singled the opposite way and sent Henkemeyer to third base on the play. Dan Olinger, who reached on an error and scored the first run for the Gophers in the fourth inning, grounded out to Kyle Ruchim, but it was enough to bring Henkemeyer home.

    Morton got a second out with a fly ball to Walker Moses standing in foul territory in left, but the next batter, UM third baseman Ryan Abrahamson put a charge into an offering from the Evanston, Ill., native that sailed over the wall to give Minnesota a 4-1 lead.

    Ty McDevitt took over for Golden Gopher starting pitcher Tom Windle after the southpaw issued back-to-back walks to Moses and Trevor Stevens to open the sixth inning. McDevitt retired the first five batters that he faced out of the bullpen until the red-hot Zach Jones laced a pinch-hit single to left field with two in the seventh. Jones couldn't score and McDevitt picked up two more punch-outs in the bottom of the eighth inning when the Wildcats began to mount a comeback.

    With two outs, Ruchim launched a towering shot to left field through the wind for his first home run of the season. The second baseman's sixth career blast sliced Northwestern's deficit in half at 4-2.

    Morton was relieved by freshman Reed Mason to open the ninth inning. The left-hander served up a lead-off single, but settled down quickly to retire the next three Gophers he faced with his devastating breaking ball.

    The Wildcats looked to have another rally in their bats as the bottom of the ninth began against McDevitt. Jack Havey, who returned to the lineup Friday for the first time since March 31, lined a double down the left-field line to start things off. Minnesota then summoned closer Billy Soule from the bullpen.

    Soule took the hill next to face the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, Jake Straub. The catcher lined the first pitch he saw to the Minnesota second baseman for the first out; Havey was leaning too far toward third base and Handel was at the bag in time to double off NU's first baseman. Soule then got Josh Perlmutter swinging to end the ballgame.

    Minnesota Game One Highlights

    Northwestern scored the game's first run back in the second inning. Colby Everett doubled to left with one away and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Stevens chopped a ball in between the pitcher's mound and the third-base line that Windle was unable to handle in time for an RBI single. The 'Cats held the 1-0 advantage until the Gophers evened the score in the fourth.

    NU showed strong discipline at the plate throughout the ballgame. The Wildcats coaxed five walks out of Windle in his five innings of work. The Maple Grove, Minn., native entered the ballgame having surrendered only nine bases-on-balls in 55.0 IP all season. Friday marked the seventh time this season that the Wildcats drew at least five walks and the 16th time that the lineup has produced at least 10 hits. Havey, Everett and Scott Heelan each had two of those hits for Northwestern.

    Morton scattered seven hits over his eight innings of work Friday. The Evanston, Ill., native allowed four runs and struck out five Gophers in his outing. He also got 16 ground-ball outs against Minnesota, but unfortunately his record drops to 3-2. McDevitt got the win for Minnesota, his third, with three innings in relief that featured six strikeouts. Soule collected his sixth save.

    Northwestern will look to even up the three-game series with Minnesota in a matinee on Saturday afternoon at Rocky Miller Park. Senior Luke Farrell will take the mound for the Wildcats; he'll be opposed by Minnesota's Alec Crawford. The first pitch is set for 1 p.m.

    Tickets are on sale now for NU's game at Wrigley Field on Saturday, April 20. The 'Cats will take on Michigan in less then two weeks at the Friendly Confines with the first pitch set for 6:05 p.m. To purchase tickets, call 888-GO-PURPLE (467-8775) or click here!


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