Outdoor home opener a sub-par one for Gophers

Minnesota went 1-3 at Siebert this weekend – its first game on campus all season.

by Brian Deutsch

The Minnesota baseball team did not get a warm reception in its first series at Siebert Field this year – dropping three out of four games to Big Ten foe Illinois.

For the second year in a row, the team’s first game at Siebert was postponed as Friday’s game was a washout.

The rescheduling forced the teams to play a pair of doubleheaders, the first of which was swept by Illinois on a cold and dreary Saturday.

“It’s a horrendous schedule when you get backed up and try to play four games in a short period of time,” Minnesota coach John Anderson said.

Fatigue was a factor for the Gophers, especially the younger players, Anderson said.

A much more pleasant Sunday brought better results for Minnesota as the Gophers split a pair of games.

“That’s Big Ten baseball, you never know what you’re going to get with the weather up here,” junior third baseman Nate Hanson said. “It’s awful tough to play a nine- and a seven-inning game two days in a row, but we have to do it. We have to get these four games in. But we play one doubleheader every weekend anyways, so it’s not that bad.”

Doubling up

Sophomore outfielder Eric Decker wasn’t the only Big Ten receiver grazing in the Siebert Field grass this weekend.

Illinois junior Kyle Hudson shares Decker’s status as a two-sport athlete – playing wide-out for the Illini football program in addition to centerfield for the baseball team.

Hudson has been a dual threat for the Illini for three years – he led the football team in receiving yards while holding the second-best batting average on the team in his first two years.

This year, his .393 average is the Illini’s best, as are his 41 runs and 28 walks.

Decker is batting well (.309) in his first season with the baseball program – a good sign as Hudson says the first year was the most difficult.

“(Decker’s) a great football player and a great baseball player as well,” Hudson said. “It’ll be tough at first, but he’ll be able to get through it and be successful.”

In fact, the Illini had two football players on the diamond for most of Sunday’s first game.

Illini freshman pitcher and Inver Grove Heights native Phil Haig got the starting nod in Sunday’s first game – earning a no decision after pitching five innings and giving up three earned runs.

Haig, who was a red-shirt quarterback for the Illini this year, originally was a Gophers recruit but instead opted to fill the position at Illinois that was vacated when current Minnesota quarterback Clint Brewster decided to join his father with the Gophers.

Guentzel resigns

After 14 years behind the Minnesota men’s hockey bench, Gophers assistant coach Mike Guentzel resigned last Friday to pursue other coaching opportunities.

A Gophers skater from 1982-1985, Guentzel returned to Minnesota after two different head coaching stints in the USHL – where he was named Coach of the Year in 1991.

“I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to play here four years and coach here for 14 years,” Guentzel said in a statement. “The Gopher program has been and always will be number one in my heart. I’ve had wonderful hard-working guys to work with and made a lot of friends here. That’s just something you can’t replace.”