Omaha - The Gophers baseball team was eliminated from the Big Ten tournament on Thursday following a 3-2 loss to Michigan at TD Ameritrade Park.
It was the second loss in two games for the Gophers (34-20), who won the conference regular-season title and was the tournament’s top seed.
Dalton Sawyer pitched the first seven-plus innings for the Gophers, holding Michigan (36-20) to one earned runs and three hits. He struck out six and walked two.
Jordan Jess relieved him in the eighth, with the Gophers ahead 2-1, and gave up an RBI single to Jake Bivens to tie the score 2-2. The eventual winning run scored on Jess’ wild pitch.
“I thought yesterday [in an 8-2 loss to Iowa] we were really anxious and really excited,” Gophers coach John Anderson said.
“We had some players that hadn’t been on the big stage, so it’s been a little harder for them the past couple of weeks because they don’t have that experience staying connected to the process rather than worried about winning and losing and what everybody else expects from them.
“As you get more attention, it gets harder for people until you learn how to deal with it. We talked about it yesterday and I thought we did a much better job today staying present and connected to the process, playing the game and I was proud of the kids. This is all about learning and growth. I thought I saw some growth today from our players and it was good to see.”
The Gophers, who only had seven hits, took a 1-0 lead on Connor Schaefbauer’s sacrifice fly in the third inning. Austin Athmann’s RBI single in the eighth made it 2-1 Minnesota. It scored Dan Motl, who went 2-for-3.
Michigan’s Oliver Jaskie limited the Gophers to one run and four hits in seven innings. He struck out six, walked three.
Reliever Bryan Paul gave up a run and three hits in the eighth but still got the win. Evan Hill got the save, striking out two of the three hitters he faced.
The Gophers, 1-4 in their past five games, is in the mid-50s in the latest RPI rankings. They will find out at noon Monday if they will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. At best, they are on the bubble.