Senior Ben Shepard struck out a career-high seven hitters over five innings to lead the Gophers past Northern Illinois 5-3 on Tuesday night at U.S. Bank Stadium for their first win of the season.
Shepard gave up two runs on six hits and walking none for Minnesota (1-11). Sophomore Seth Clausen came in to close the game in the ninth after Cam Blazek went 2 ⅓ innings, allowing just one earned run.
Offensively, senior Riley Swenson hit a two-run home run for Minnesota and sophomore Ike Mezzenga went 2-for-4 with two RBI for his team-best seventh multi-hit game of 2023. Sophomore Brady Counsell also was 2-for-4.
Swenson's two-out, two-run homer put the Gophers ahead 4-2 in the sixth inning.
Minnesota scored once more on an RBI single by Mezzenga in the seventh inning. Northern Illinois put one more run on the board off an RBI groundout in the eighth.
"It was a great opportunity to play at U.S. Bank Stadium," Huskies coach Mike Kunigonis said. "We had an even better opportunity to get a win on the road over a Power-Five school. We fought hard and worked late in the game but couldn't get the big hit when we needed it."
Northern Illinois (3-9) was led by junior Eric Erato, who went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Sophomore Conner Lutes threw two shutout innings for the Huskies.
- The Gophers men's golf team finished seventh (843) at the Colleton River Collegiate in Bluffton, S.C. Junior Ben Warian finished with a 72 for a 10-under 206, tying him for second.
- Natalie DenHartog hit a homer, but the Gophers softball team lost 2-1 to host San Diego State to fall to 11-9. Reliever Autumn Pease threw 3⅔ scoreless innings with six strikeouts.
- Andrew Sparks (165 pounds) and Garrett Joles (heavyweight) of the Gophers were named at-large entrants into NCAA wrestling tournament from March 17-19 in Tulsa, Okla., joining seven automatic qualifiers from the Big Ten meet.
- Freshman Vivi Del Angel and fifth-year senior Joy Zhu of the Gophers finished four and sixth, respectively, on the 3-meter springboard in the Zone D diving championships at Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center to qualify for the NCAA meet from March 22-25 at the same venue.
- Fifth-year Gophers forward Taylor Heise was named February's national co-player of the month by the Hockey Commissioners' Association. She had nine goals and 15 points in eight games in February. ... The same group named Gophers forward Logan Cooley men's rookie of the month for February. He had three goals and nine assists last month.