Gophers beat Purdue 6-4 for Big Ten Tournament championship

Published 7:23 am Tuesday, May 29, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. — Ben Mezzenga drove in Minnesota’s go-ahead run in the Big Ten Tournament championship game, but no play was more important than his throw home Sunday to prevent Purdue from tying it in the eighth inning.

“It’s an outfielder’s dream to come up and fire a guy out like that,” Mezzenga said after the top-seeded Gophers won 6-4 to complete their sweep of the conference’s regular-season and tournament titles.

Minnesota had outscored the Boilermakers 40-15 in two regular-season games, but this one was close throughout. The Gophers came back three times from one-run deficits in the first six innings. They went ahead in the bottom of the sixth on singles by Luke Pettersen and Mezzenga.

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Mezzenga’s huge defensive play came after Evan Kennedy doubled off All-Big Ten reliever Max Meyer. Charlie Nasuti pinch ran and tried to score from second when Evan Warden singled into left field with two outs. Mezzenga came up throwing and nailed Nasuti at the plate. The play was upheld after a video review.

Purdue coach Mark Wasikowski said the decision to send Nasuti home could be second-guessed, but not by him.