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By ALEX SNYDER
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Minnesota starting pitcher Reggie Meyer held the University of Iowa baseball team in check and the Gophers’ offense pounded out 16 hits to hand the Hawkeyes a 9-3 Big Ten Tournament defeat Saturday morning at Bart Kaufman Field.
Minnesota’s win sets up a Saturday semifinal elimination game, one that will begin at 4 p.m (CT). The winner advances to Sunday’s Big Ten Tournament title game.
The Hawkeyes scored three runs over the first three innings before Meyer settled in. The right-hander allowed three runs on four hits over a career-high eight innings and fanned seven to notch his fifth victory of the season.
“Meyer was good, we need to give him credit,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “When we started watching film, figuring that is we were going to see, he concerned us.”
After Minnesota grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Iowa fought back in the bottom half to take its only lead. After sophomore Chris Whelan was plunked to start the game, senior Mason McCoy belted a two-run home run to left field to give the Hawkeyes a 2-1 lead.
UI starter Elijah Wood retired the Gophers in order in the second before Minnesota put up a four spot in the third, chasing Wood from the game with one out.
Iowa’s third run came in the bottom of the third when McCoy and Robert Neustrom reached via walks with two outs. Junior Tyler Cropley singled home McCoy to make the score 5-3 before the Gophers stretched their advantage to 8-3 with a three-run fourth against reliever Nick Nelsen.
After the third, Meyer retired eight straight Hawkeyes before allowing a two-out single to freshman Grant Judkins in the sixth. Meyer allowed a seventh-inning base runner via a hit by pitch before sitting the Hawkeyes down in order in the eighth.
“The disappointing thing for me was I thought we battled in the first four innings,” said Heller. “We didn’t have a lot to show for it, but we battled. We had (Meyer) up to 80 pitches in the fourth; that was the plan, let’s get him out.
“We knew their bullpen was beat up and didn’t have a lot of guys to throw. Then we turn around with a six-pitch, eight-pitch, and 12-pitch inning, and (Meyer) is still in the game. He did what they needed him to do.”
Wood (1-1) suffered the loss, allowing five runs on seven hits over 2 1/3 innings. Minnesota scored four more runs (two earned) against reliever Nick Nelsen before sophomore Sammy Lizarraga scattered five hits over the final four frames. He had four strikeouts without issuing a walk.
Iowa finished with four hits in the game; McCoy was 1-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs.
“Offensively, we haven’t swung it since we’ve been here,” said Heller. “We scored enough to win the first game, but for two games in a row we haven’t been good and the middle of our lineup isn’t getting it done. They need to pick it up.”