Coming into this weekend’s three-game series against Minnesota, the Michigan baseball team had won two straight conference series and sat atop the Big Ten standings with Northwestern.

But after losing two of three to the Golden Gophers in Minneapolis, the Wolverines saw themselves in an unfamiliar position with just their second conference series loss of the season.

Michigan took the series finale against Minnesota on Sunday, 2-1, to avoid the sweep. The series loss also gave Purdue a half-game lead in the conference, pending the Boilermakers’ game with Michigan State on Monday.

And after losing 14-7 on Friday and 5-4 on Saturday, Michigan would have slipped as low as fourth place, but now sits tied for second with Minnesota and Northwestern.

“We couldn’t feel sorry for ourselves after the first games,” junior leftfielder Ryan LaMarre said. “(Minnesota) wanted to sweep us and the rest of the Big Ten wanted them to sweep us.”

The Gophers (10-8 Big Ten, 22-27 overall) scored first in Sunday’s contest when designated hitter Trip Schultz doubled to right center. Schultz hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth frame on Saturday to make the series 2-0 coming into Sunday’s matchup at Mall of America Field.

But Michigan (10-8, 29-17) responded in the top of the fourth inning when sophomore third baseman John Lorenz drove in sophomore designated hitter Coley Crank with a double. Lorenz was 2-3 in Sunday’s game and had one of the team’s two RBI.

“Today was a gut check for us,” Lorenz said of Sunday’s game. “We needed this win to stay in the run for first place.”

The Wolverines posted one more tally in the top of the eighth stanza when LaMarre cranked a home run to kick off the inning. The junior said that it was his way of avenging Saturday’s heartbreaking loss.

“(Saturday) was one of the toughest losses that I have ever seen in any sport I’ve played in,” LaMarre said. “All and all I really didn’t perform that well. I really tried to relax (before that home run) and it was a 1-0 count and I just put a good swing on it.”

LaMarre is currently batting .396, the highest of any starting Wolverine. He has hit three home runs and has knocked in 20 RBI.

The Gophers had a scoreless ninth inning in the finale, and their bats were powerless the whole afternoon. Sophomore pitcher Brandon Sinnery started the game by allowing just five hits in his 5.1 innings of work.

“(The pitchers) knew today that in order to keep the Big Ten search alive we had to be playing well,” LaMarre said.

Redshirt freshman left-hander Bobby Brosnahan came to the mound to close, and he did exactly what the Wolverines couldn’t do the rest of the weekend — finish. Brosnahan faced 11 batters and fanned four while giving up just one hit in 3.2 innings. His performance was critical in Michigan’s winning effort, fending off a sweep by the Gophers.

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