Minnesota takes home opener over Augsburg

The Gophers had 14 hits against the Division III team.

Shortstop Jordan Kozicky hits a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning on Wednesday, March 27 at Siebert Field.

Jack Warrick

Shortstop Jordan Kozicky hits a solo home run in the bottom of the second inning on Wednesday, March 27 at Siebert Field.

Jack Warrick

The Gophers held a 48-1-1 record over the Auggies of Augsburg (4-8) going into Wednesday’s home opener at Siebert Field.

The trend continued Wednesday. The Gophers (9-13) clobbered the ball, tallying 14 hits as a team, on the way to a 9-3 victory over the Division III opponent from across the river.

“I saw some guys that were focused, and wanted to come out here and work on some things,” said head coach John Anderson. “The level of pitching’s different than our level. Guys don’t throw as hard, but you’ve got to make adjustments in the batters box.”

Minnesota freshman pitcher Sam Thoresen started on the mound. He came into the evening with a 13.85 ERA and an 0-3 record in 13 innings pitched this year. Against Augsburg, Thoresen allowed one hit and no runs in four innings of pitching.

“It was nice to finally get my legs under me, and just get back to the mentality of attacking hitters, and getting back to what I know,” Thoresen said. 

The Gophers lost 13 of the first 18 games during the non-conference schedule, facing some of the best pitching in the nation while dealing with away and neutral environments. But it was a different story on Wednesday. The Gophers had their own fans, their own stadium and Division III pitching. 

The Gophers led off scoring when outfielder Easton Bertrand hit a single to center field that scored outfielder Ben Mezzenga. Three innings later, the Gophers were up 9-0, led in hitting by shortstop Jordan Kozicky. Kozicky hit a solo home run and a double on three at bats, tallying three RBIs in the process. Kozicky had a .125 batting average through the first seven games of the season.

“I didn’t feel pressured, I just feel like I was trying to do too much. Trying to hit doubles when it just wasn’t working,” Kozicky said about his slow start at the plate this season. “Just keeping things simple, and that’s what I did tonight.”

The Gophers allowed three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, including a two-run double from Auggies infielder Ryan Masui.

Minnesota pitched several young pitchers who did not have many innings of experience this season. After Thoresen, sophomore Bubba Horton, freshman J.P. Massey and sophomore Ryan Duffy each got one inning of work. Massey had a 6.75 ERA on 5 1/3 innings pitched this season, and Duffy came in with a 19.29 ERA on 2 1/3 innings pitched. In the final inning, freshman Gus Radel and sophomore Nolan Burchill finished the game off. 

“We want to try get some pitchers out there and see who’s made some adjustments, and where people are at,” Anderson said. “Plus, we got a chance to get out here on the field before Nebraska comes in. We got a chance to be out here and get adjusted to playing at home again.”

Minnesota plays Nebraska in a three-game series at Siebert Field Friday, Saturday and Sunday.