The Gophers lost to No. 1 Indiana Thursday evening at Target Field, 4-2, and will face Illinois on Friday in an elimination game at the Big Ten Tournament.
D.J. Snelten pitched six innings in the loss, but the Minnesota offense could not get over the hump after Indiana jumped on Snelten in the first inning, scoring three runs before the junior pitcher could settle in.
Snelten finished with five strikeouts and allowed four runs, only three earned runs, to record his second loss of the season.
Meanwhile, Indiana’s Aaron Slegers pitched seven innings for his ninth win of the year. The 6-foot-10 redshirt sophomore from Arizona allowed only one earned run on five hits while striking out seven Minnesota batters in seven innings pitched.
The loss means the Gophers will face the Illini for the third time in four games on Friday. Minnesota beat Illinois in the last game of the regular season at Siebert Field last weekend to clinch the No. 4 seed in the tournament. The Gophers beat them again on Wednesday.
Indiana got on base early in the first inning with a 1-0 double to left center on the first at-bat by Hoosier outfielder Chris Sujka. Following a ground out, Snelten walked the next batter before cleanup hitter Scott Donley hit a ground-rule double down the left-field line for the game’s first run. The Hoosiers would tack on two more runs before the first inning was over.
Minnesota wouldn’t score until the fifth inning, when Dan Olinger doubled in a run to put the game at 3-1. But Indiana answered in the bottom of the fifth inning with their fourth and final run.
Snelten struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the fifth inning, and was on his way to a quick three-and-out when senior Andy Henkemeyer dropped a fly-ball in left-field for his fifth error of the year. The error allowed Indiana to reach base, which preceded a pair of base hits that scored the last run for Indiana.
The Gophers will play Illinois at noon on Friday.