Robb Quinlan’s bat made enough noise in this past weekend’s series against Indiana to be heard all around the Big Ten.
On Monday, the junior was named the conference’s player of the week for his offensive production.
Quinlan frustrated the Hoosiers’ pitching staff, going an impressive 8-for-15 with seven RBIs and nine runs scored during the series.
“I can go 0-for-10,” Quinlan said, referring to his struggles with Michigan’s pitching staff a couple weekends ago. “And there are times when I am hot, too.”
The first baseman’s offensive revival, highlighted by four home runs, helped the Gophers take three of four games in the series and improve to 12-8 in the Big Ten.
Sunday’s game marked a milestone for two Gophers players. With the announcement of game four’s defensive lineup, seniors Jason Dobis and Mark Groebner trotted out to the mound and left field, respectively, for the last time in Big Ten action (assuming Minnesota does not host the Big Ten tournament).
Dobis became a regular in the Gophers starting pitching rotation this season. With 67 innings recorded this year, the Little Falls, Minn., native has logged nearly 170 innings in his career.
The player “known for his impeccable grooming and patronage of Abercrombie & Fitch on road trips,” as public address announcer Dick Jonckowski described Dobis, appeared in 50 games during his career, including 16 starts.
Groebner, who was redshirted his freshman year, has made himself into an outstanding player. Batting in the middle of the lineup, Groebner is second on the team with a .390 average.
The Coon Rapids, Minn., native leads the Big Ten with 59 RBIs and 22 stolen bases.
While their careers are not over yet, the pair has helped the Gophers to an impressive 121-79 record over the past four years.
Who’s that Hoosier?
On a day when he should have been receiving compliments, Groebner was overheard giving them.
And the target of his praise was one of Indiana’s ballplayers.
“Pretty slick with the glove there, six,” Groebner said as the Indiana team headed to the locker room. “I haven’t seen anybody with that smooth of a glove in a while.”
Shortstop Ryan Schade was the recipient of Groebner’s comment. The freshman saved several base hits throughout the four-game series.
In a sense, Sunday should have been senior day for Minnesota’s bat boy B.J. Farga. Farga, who is in his fourth year with the team, displayed the extent of his devotion following Sunday’s game.
Catcher Jeremy Negen and Farga stood outside of the locker room discussing the team’s future road trips. Negen asked the young Farga if he would be flying with the team to Michigan State for its upcoming series.
Farga said, “Of course,” making it seem like the notion of him not being there was ridiculous.
Then when it was mentioned that the team’s flight departs shortly before seven Friday morning, the bat boy said, “If they really wanted me here, I could be here at 3:30 in the morning.”
With the three wins this weekend, the Gophers improved their overall record to 31-12, helping the team inch closer to a possible regional bid.
“I guess the 40-win mark has sort of been a token of getting an automatic bid to regionals,” Mike Arlt said.
A total of 48 teams are invited to regionals. Minnesota would be automatically accepted if it won the Big Ten tournament; otherwise, the Gophers need to be offered a bid.
Although Arlt said it would be great to return to the regionals because the team hasn’t made it that far since 1994, he said the team is concentrating on one weekend at a time.
“It would definitely be a great thing, but it is not our main concern right now,” Arlt said.
Around the horn
ù In winning three out of four this weekend, the Gophers moved one game ahead of Indiana in Big Ten standings to take sole possession of third place. Minnesota is one game back of Ohio State and trails Illinois by three games.
ù Craig Selander leads the Big Ten with 15 home runs, two of which came against Indiana.
ù With this past weekend’s slug fest, the Gophers claimed the top spot in the Big Ten’s team batting average category. Minnesota is hitting .349 overall.