Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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One pitch costs Gophers dearly in Big Ten tourney opener

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under Sports, Gophers post season Updated: May 22, 2014 - 4:06 AM

Shortstop Travis Maezes is not a home run hitter.

He is the leadoff hitter for Michigan. But Wednesday night, with two runners aboard, he saw a pitch he liked and turned on it.

Maezes' third home run of the season, to right center field, gave the Wolverines a 3-2 victory over the Gophers on Day 1 of the Big Ten baseball tournament in Omaha, Neb.

"Travis is one of our best clutch hitters," Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. "Big-time players make big plays when you need them the most. We needed a cluch hit and he delivered."

He sure did.

His homer came in the seventh inning. At the time, Michigan (29-27-1) was trailing 2-0 and running out of innings.

Until then, the Gophers were making all the big plays. Behind the plate, catcher Mark Tatera threw out a runner trying to steal second base in the first inning, tagged out a runner at home in the second and picked off a runner at first in the third.

"Early on we got some baserunners," Bakich said, "but we were a bit overly aggressive. We had some baserunning mistakes that cost us."

The Gophers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth, scoring on Mike Handel's RBI double. Connor Schaefbauer's single in the fifth brought in another run for a 2-0 lead.

"The difference early," Bakich said, "was Minnesota got the two our RBIs and separated the game a little bit. We were looking for find our rhythm. Credit [Alec] Crawford for settling in and doing a nice job of mixing his pitches."

Crawford was the Gophers starter. He gave up three runs on 10 hits in 6-1/3 innings.

But he kept the Wolverines scoreless until the seventh. Then two batters on the bottom of the Michigan order got on base. Jacob Lamb and Eric Jacobson, the No. 8 and 9 hitters, both singled with one out. Maezes was next.

And he hit Crawford's 105th pitch a long ways.

The Gophers (29-27-1) will play Iowa at 1 p.m. today in the losers' bracket. Loser goes home,

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