OMAHA – Joshua Culliver, Ryan Duffy and Brett Schulze combined for a seven-hit shutout, Eli Wilson drove in a pair of runs and the Gophers remained alive in the Big Ten baseball tournament by beating Iowa 3-0 in a game that ended early Saturday morning.
The fourth-seeded Gophers (28-26) advanced to play Ohio State at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Gophers must beat the Buckeyes twice to advance to a championship game Sunday against either Michigan or Nebraska; seventh-seeded Ohio State has yet to lose in the double-elimination tournament.
"Next man up is all we preach, and you just compete every day, and that's what we're doing right now," said Duffy, who pitched 3⅔ innings of relief, giving up three hits and one walk while striking out four.
Wilson drove in Ben Mezzenga with an RBI single in the top of the third inning, and that stood as the game’s only run until the ninth, when the Gophers (28-26) added two insurance runs with two out. Jordan Kozicky hit an RBI single to drive in Easton Bertrand, who had reached on a bunt single and stole second. Wilson then followed with a double to left-center field, scoring Kozicky.
Culliver pitched 4⅓ innings, giving up four hits and striking out four. The lefthanded Duffy replaced Culliver in the fifth inning with one on and one out, then promptly walked his first batter on four pitches. But Duffy recovered by inducing a double-play grounder from Izaya Fullard to escape the inning with the lead.
"Just giving our team a chance to win, each and every inning, each and every pitch, was amazing," Culliver said.
Iowa opened the bottom of the ninth inning with a single off Duffy, and the Gophers summoned Schulze. The closer hit Tanner Wetrich with a pitch, but he retired pinch hitter Austin Martin on a pop-up.
Brendan Sher followed with a grounder up the middle that Schulze deflected to shortstop Kozicky, who barehanded the ball and barely retired Sher at first — a call that stood a lengthy replay review.
With runners on second and third, Schulze fell behind 3-0 to Chris Whelan, the Most Outstanding Player of the 2017 Big Ten tournament. But Schulze followed with three strikes, the last called on the outside corner.
Iowa (31-24) had to play the Gophers after losing to Nebraska 11-1 earlier in the day.
Michigan 10, Maryland 4: Jesse Franklin went 2-for-4 with two walks and an RBI double, one of four Wolverines batters with multiple hits in a victory over the Terrapins.
Jack Blomgren and Blake Nelson each drove in two runs for the second-seeded Wolverines (40-17).