The No. 19/15 University of Minnesota Gophers swept their second Big Ten series in a row with 5-1 and 8-2 victories over Purdue this afternoon.
"It's not easy to sweep," head coach Jamie Trachsel said. "It's not easy to come out and win a game and win the series, let alone sweep the series. To do it back-to-back on the road and at home means we are taking care of business."
The Gophers played a doubleheader after postponing Saturday's game due to cold temperatures. Minnesota improves to 25-9 overall and 6-0 in the Big Ten.
In two games today, Hope Brandner went 4-4 for with three walks, three RBIs, one double and two solo shot home runs. Brandner hit .833 with a slugging percentage of 2.000 and an on-base percentage of .900 over the weekend.
"She had a great weekend and not just when it comes to stats," Trachsel said. "She played well on both sides of the ball. It was a complete, mature performance from her this weekend."
Minnesota will head to the University of Illinois next weekend for another three-game series. Game one is set for Friday at 5:00 p.m. CT. All three games will be available on BTN Plus.
Game 1: Minnesota 5, Purdue 1
Purdue jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first after plating a run on a double. It would be the only run Sydney Smith would allow all game in the circle.
The Gophers placed doubles in the first and second innings with two outs on the board in an effort to tie the game but were unable to do anything with them. The tying run came in the bottom of the fourth by way of Brandner's first home run of the day.
Purdue loaded the bases in the top of the fifth but Smith was able to work her way out of trouble and the Gophers bats caught fire in the bottom of the frame.
With two outs on the board, Natalie DenHartog smacked a single to drive in Maddie Houlihan and MaKenna Partain to make it 3-1 in favor of the Gophers. Taylor Chell stepped up right after and cleared the bases with a shot to left for the final two runs of the game.
Smith retired Purdue's last six batters in order in the final two innings. The senior pitched her fifth complete game of the season with seven strikeouts and only issued two walks. She improves to 8-3 overall with a 2.26 ERA.
Game 2: Minnesota 8, Purdue 2
Brandner opened up the game by smashing her ninth home run of the season, and second of the day, on the first pitch to give the Gophers an early 1-0 lead.
Minnesota extended their lead to 3-0 in the third on a Purdue throwing error that sent Macy Gill and Houlihan across the plate.
Brandner's punched Partain across for another run in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single to give the Gophers a 4-0 edge.
Purdue pulled within two with a strong fifth inning. They scored two runs on a double to left center with two outs on the board and threatened to plate more but Amber Fiser was able to strike out the last batter to close out the frame.
Other than the fifth inning blemish, Fiser was dominant yet again. The junior ace matched her career high with 13 strikeouts in the win. She has 159 strikeouts on the season.
The Maroon and Gold answered back in the bottom of the fifth with strong base running from Ali Lindner. The freshman came in to pinch run for Chell and scooted to second on a sacrifice bunt and to third on a passed ball. She scored as she charged home on a Katelyn Kemmetmueller bunt.
DenHartog's team-leading 11th home run of the season gave the Gophers an 8-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth. The Hopkins, Minn. native crushed the ball to center to put a cherry on top of her strong weekend. She went 4-7 with five RBIs, one double and one home run. She hit .600 on the weekend with a 1.000 slugging percentage.
Fiser went all seven innings and moves to 15-6 after the victory.