The six-team Big Ten baseball tournament kicked off at Minneapolis' Target Field on Wednesday with Minnesota and Nebraska both getting that all-important first-round win to stay in the winner's bracket.
In Game 1, tournament host and No. 4 seed Minnesota defeated the No. 5 seed Illinois Fighting Illini 3-2 on the back of Andy Henkemeyer's walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. Henkemeyer finished the day 3-for-4 with two RBI.
Minnesota's Ben Meyer got the win and improved to 5-4 on the year. He pitched four scoreless innings while striking out six and allowing two hits.
Illinois' only two runs came in the second inning when Brandon Hole scored off a David Kerian RBI single and Minnesota starter Tom Windle loaded the bases and walked in a second run.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers advance to play the No. 1 seed Indiana Hoosiers tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET.
In Game 2, No. 3 seed Nebraska took down the No. 6 seed Michigan Wolverines 11-2.
Nebraska scored three runs in the third, fifth and seventh innings. Blake Headley and Austin Darby lead the Cornhusker hitting barrage. Headley finished 3-for-5 with two RBI while Darby batted in four runs of his own.
Nebraska's Kyle Kubat was credited with the win after pitching seven scoreless innings and striking out six batters as he improved to 5-0.
Michigan was unable to get anything across home plate until the ninth inning, but by then it was too late.
After the game, Michigan head coach Eric Bakich had high praise for Kyle Kubat, according to Baseball America:
“He’s got the change up as his special pitch and he kept us off balance when we played at Nebraska this past Thursday and he got through the lineup the first couple times pretty handily. He just one of those guys that has really good command down in the zone and he spots his fastball on both sides."
Michigan will play Illinois today at 12:05 p.m. ET in the tournament's first elimination game. Nebraska advances to play the No. 2 seed Ohio State Buckeyes at 3:35 p.m.
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