Gophers hold off Jackrabbits 8-5

Minnesota jumped out to a 7-1 lead before South Dakota State rallied late.

Bob Wothe

It was a fairly typical mid-week game for Minnesota’s men’s baseball team.

Pitching changes were abundant, 19 Gophers found their way into the box score and Minnesota won, pushing its record on Wednesdays to 3-1 by beating South Dakota State 8-5.

And, most importantly, coach John Anderson got a chance to work players who hadn’t seen the field in a while.

“We’re really trying to work on things in these midweek games,” Anderson said. “We try to get guys out there who haven’t been there in a while.”

Anderson made sure of that, as nine of his Gophers collected at least one hit and six pitchers held the Jackrabbits (7-24) to five hits.

Minnesota (15-13, 7-1 Big Ten) jumped out to a 7-1 lead after a six-run fourth inning in which the first seven batters reached base.

The inning was jump-started by Andy Hunter, who hit a leadoff home run for his first of the year.

“It felt good to finally get one,” Hunter said. “I’m trying to put together good at-bats, and that gives me some more confidence for the weekend.”

But the Jackrabbits didn’t fold and kept the game close, answering right back in the fifth inning with a three-run homer by Greg Geary to bring the game to 7-4.

Then, Anderson inserted one player he said he wishes wouldn’t have played – pitcher Gary Perinar.

“He shouldn’t have been out there,” Anderson said. “His tricep was tight, and he didn’t say anything about it.”

Perinar hit two batters and surrendered a run on an error before leaving the game with the score 7-5. Luke Beresford got out of the jam thanks to a timely double play started by shortstop Matt Fornasiere.

The Gophers held on during the final two innings largely thanks to Andy Peters, who fanned three of the minimum four batters he faced in 1 1/3 innings.

“(Peters) has kind of been our go-to guy in tight spots,” said Fornasiere, who extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a 1-for-4 effort and two RBIs. “He came in and shut them down so we could get the win.”

Anderson said that while getting usual bench players more work in midweek games, they’re just as important as the ones the team will play at Penn State this weekend.

The Nittany Lions are 5-3 in the Big Ten, and the four-game series begins at 3 p.m. Friday in State College, Pa.