MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Junior center fielder Mitch Haniger blasted a three-run home run and junior right-hander Joey Wagman scattered 11 hits over six innings for his fourth win as Cal Poly rallied to defeat Minnesota 4-3 in the opener of a three-game non-conference baseball series Saturday night in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.
Haniger's three-run shot in the sixth inning, his third three-run clout and fourth homer of the year, erased a 2-1 Minnesota lead and Wagman and three relievers were able to hold for the win.
Cal Poly, playing its first-ever baseball game indoors, improved to 12-5 while Minnesota lost its fifth straight, falling to 7-11 on the year. The Golden Gophers, in the midst of a 27-game homestand, have produced 48 winning records in their last 49 seasons.
Wagman (4-1) struck out two and walked one. The two runs he gave up, both in the first inning, were earned. Minnesota got five of six leadoff batters on base, all on hits, against Wagman, but stranded nine runners on the basepaths. Two others were erased on double plays and a third was thrown out at the plate by Haniger in the second inning.
Nick Grim, Matt Imhof and Chase Johnson each worked an inning in relief -- Johnson getting his third save with one strikeout as Minnesota left the potential game-tying run at third base in the ninth inning.
Minnesota's first three batters of the game produced two singles and a double for the first run. Third baseman Dan Olinger grounded out for the second run.
Cal Poly rallied with a run in the fourth as sophomore first baseman Tim Wise singled and came around to score on a wild pitch, fly ball to the outfield and a groundout by freshman right fielder Nick Torres.
After senior shortstop Mike Miller and Wise singled with one out in the sixth, Haniger (pictured above) turned the game around with his three-run home run to left field. He hit three-run shots against Loyola Marymount and the University of San Diego earlier in the year.
Minnesota closed the gap to 4-3 with a run in the seventh on a wild pitch, but left two runners on base.
The Golden Gophers also rallied in the ninth, getting a runner to third on a one-out single, a sacrifice bunt and a stolen base, but Johnson struck out designated hitter David Bettenburg to end the game.
The loss went to junior right-hander JT Oakes (4-1), who allowed four runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings with one walk and five strikeouts.
Cal Poly, outhit 14-8, was led offensively by Wise with three singles. Haniger's home run was the lone extra-base hit for the Mustangs.
Six Minnesota batters collected two hits, including the top four in the batting order as well as reserve outfielder Jake Bergren and shortstop Michael Handel.
Second game of the series will be played Sunday at 12:05 p.m. PDT with senior southpaw Kyle Anderson (3-0, 0.70 ERA) on the mound for Cal Poly against Minnesota's Tom Windle (2-2, 4.00 ERA) or DJ Snelten (0-1, 3.10 ERA), both left-handers.
Final game of the series is scheduled for 11:35 a.m. PDT on Monday.