Before tonight’s 14-7 loss to Minnesota, the Michigan baseball team’s bullpen had allowed the fewest runs in the Big Ten this year.

But after poor play on the mound at Mall of America Field in Minneapolis on Friday night, the Wolverines race to a conference title was hindered in a big way.

Michigan (9-7 Big Ten, 28-15 overall) went up early when senior catcher Chris Berset singled up the middle to drive home junior outfielder Ryan LaMarre who had advanced to second base on a balk. The Wolverines were on the upper end of the contest, 3-2, heading into the bottom of the fifth frame.

That’s exactly when the hurlers couldn’t come through against the Golden Gophers (8-7, 20-26). Senior pitcher Eric Katzman was pulled in the bottom of the fifth after pitching four innings. The lefty gave up five hits and four runs before he was sent to the dugout in favor of redshirt junior Matt Gerbe.

But the Wolverines pitching woes continued. Gerbe allowed four hits and two runs in just one inning. Junior Travis Smith and freshmen Kyle Clark and Ben Ballantine all got to the pitcher’s mound at one point and allowed eight hits and eight runs, collectively.

And though the pitching staff doomed Michigan, the offense never really sparked, either. Redshirt senior rightfielder Nick Urban knocked one out of the park in the second inning, but that remained Michigan’s only offensive spark. When all was said and done, the Wolverines were victim to 11 strikeouts.

Michigan won its season finale against the Golden Gophers last year in a game that knocked Minnesota out of the top spot in the Big Ten with less than a week remaining in the season. The Golden Gophers came looking for revenge this weekend.

With one loss in the three-game series, Michigan will be looking to avenge its loss on Saturday and Sunday.

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