Whether Tuesday night’s offensive explosion against Division II St. Cloud State has any carry-over effect for the Gophers baseball team this weekend in an important Big Ten series at Iowa remains to be seen.
But for one night at least, Minnesota temporarily shoved aside memories of a poor offensive weekend against Illinois and clobbered the Huskies 19-6.
The Gophers moved back to .500 at 22-22. St. Cloud State fell to 12-24.
Sophomore Robb Quinlan had two home runs — running his team-leading total to 11 — five RBIs, and tied a Gophers record for doubles in a season with 24. He led an offense that scored seven more runs than it did in four games last weekend against the Illini, which resulted in a damaging sweep for Minnesota.
Of course, comparing a normal Division II school like St. Cloud State to a Big Ten school is like comparing a “Where’s Waldo?” book to a Hemingway novel. Waldo is solid in his own right, but he has hard time competing outside his own league. Still, it was important that the Gophers play a game in which they score some runs.
“There’s no doubt it’s easier offensively,” Gophers center fielder Troy Stein said. “We’d rather face the pitching of St. Cloud State or other North Central Conference teams any day.”
The Gophers not only took advantage of their opponent but also a strong wind blowing almost straight out to center field. Both Quinlan and Ben Griffin unleashed bombs that cleared the 30-foot-high wall just behind the center field fence, which is 380 feet away from home plate.
Both homers were estimated to travel more than 420 feet. Griffin’s home run, his third of the year and first since March 24, was estimated at 436. Phil McDermott also went deep for Minnesota, his fifth.
Minnesota trailed 2-0 going into the bottom of the third, but Quinlan’s solo blast and McDermott’s two-run shot gave the Gophers the lead. They continued to pad that lead, most notably in an eight-run sixth.
Matt Scanlon had three hits, Griffin had two hits and three RBIs, and Bob Keeney and Craig Selander each had two hits and two RBIs for the Gophers.
GAME SUMMARYSCSU 101 100 201 — 6 12 2Gophers 003 408 40x — 19 22 4
SCSU — Oelschlager, Brost (3), Winter (4), Vollan (6), Jahnke (8) and Grande; Gophers — McGrath, Freeman (4), Kitzerow (7), Felling (9) and Negen, Egan (7). W — Freeman, 3-1. L — Brost, 2-4. HRs — SCSU, Versalles (3), Boland (3); Gophers, Quinlan 2 (11), McDermott (5), Griffin (3). T — 3:07. A — 202.