Gophers Comeback Falls Short In A 9-7 Loss To Ole Miss

March 4th, 2023: Gophers fall to Ole Miss in a back-and-forth game, dropping their tenth straight loss to start the season. 

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Minneapolis, MINN – In what was a back-and-forth game, the Minnesota Golden Gophers drop their tenth straight loss to start the 2023 season falling 9-7 against the 2022 National championship-winning, Ole Miss. 

Jacob Gonzalez led off the game with a double but was later thrown out by Riley Swenson trying to steal third. This provided a little boost for the Gophers but two straight walks and a single by Kemp Alderman filled the bases for Anthony Calarco.

The six-foot-four senior smashed the 0-0 pitch right up the gut between Brady Counsell and Ike Mezzenga which gave Ole Miss an early 2-0 lead. TJ McCants tacked on another with a sac-fly to right field. 

Coming into this game the Gophers had three home runs in nine games played. Their opponent, Ole Miss had 22. Riley Swenson had one of them. After going deep in yesterday’s 3-2 loss to Hawaii. Tonight the senior from Chaska, Minnesota added another with a second-inning blast to center field. 

The Gophers got another run when two kids from Mounds View High School produced a run. Brett Bateman laced a single into the outfield and was moved to second after a sac-bunt from Counsell. 

Mezzenga, in his first year with the Gophers, jumped on the first pitch and ripped a deep ball off the center field wall which brought Bateman home up standing.

The two Juniors from Mounds View have been some huge bright spots on this Gophers team. Only two Gophers have their season batting average over .300 in 16 minimum at-bats. Bateman is batting .425, slugging .475, has stolen six bases, and has an OPS of .996. 

Mezzenga is batting .415, slugging .585, has seven doubles, and has an OPS of 1.040. The two of them have combined for 35 of the team’s 95 hits. Tonight they helped string together a little rally off Grayson Saunier who had six strikeouts in the first three innings. 

Jake Perry followed up Mezzenga’s RBI double with one of his own which tied it for the Gophers. It was Perry’s first double of the year and fifth RBI which ranks tied with Jake Larson for the team lead in RBI’s, at the time. 

Ole Miss answered with a run of their own in the top of the fifth after what almost was a great relay play by Kris Hokenson and Mezzenga. Calarco laced a drive into the left-center gap which had Alderman hustling around third. 

Hokenson retrieved the ball off the wall and sent a laser to Mezzenga who followed that up with a laser to Swenson. Alderman’s slide knocked the ball out of the glove of Swenson’s and Ole Miss regained the lead. 

That was until Jake Perry blasted his first home run of the year to dead center. Perry now leads the team in RBI’s after mashing an 0-0 pitch to center. Counsell led the inning off with a lineout and Mezzenga followed with another base hit on the first pitch of the at-bat. Perry then unloaded on one to center giving the Gophers their first lead of the game. 

Five Innings was all for Sam Malec he finished with four runs on four earned runs while allowing nine hits and three walks on 90 pitches. Caden Capomaccio came into the game in relief for his third game of the year and later received the loss.

The freshman from Green Bay, Wisconsin ran into a little bit of trouble after a leadoff walk but recovered with a ground out on the next batter. Ethan Lege recorded a single which was followed by a fly-out to Bateman. With a big crow hop, Bateman rifled one home getting Chatagnier at the plate to end the top half of the sixth. 

Ole Miss lead off the seventh with a single and a double which chased Capomaccio out of the game. George Klassen came into the game and struck out the first batter he faced but then allowed two singles and Ole Miss added two runs, reclaiming the lead by one. 

Klassen ended the inning with a bases-loaded ground out and only left the top of the seventh down a run. 

After a walk, a single, and a wild pitch to start the eighth inning, Klassen allowed one run on a sac fly to center off the bat of Alderman. This gave Ole Miss a two-run lead. 

They followed it up with two more runs in the ninth and eventually handed the Gophers their tenth straight loss to start the year. Chatagnier led the ninth off with a strikeout then Will Furniss lined one to Drew Berkland who was a defensive replacement for Sam Hunt. 

Berkland dropped the ball and Furniss was aboard with one out. After looking at what he thought was ball four, Ethan Lege stepped back into the box and ripped a two-run shot to center giving Ole Miss a 9-5 lead. 

After Hokenson walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Weber Neels came in to pinch-hit for Kyle Bork. Neels connected on a 0-1 pitch and hit his first home run of the year to left center and brought the Gophers within two. But a strikeout, lineout, and groundout ended the Gophers’ comeback. 

They will be back at U.S Bank Stadium tomorrow night at 6:00 pm for a matchup against Vanderbilt.

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