Iowa up next for sizzling Gophers baseball

by Anthony Maggio

Minnesota’s baseball team is currently riding an 11-game winning streak, and if history is any indication of what this weekend will bring, the Gophers could come out of Sunday on a 15-game tear.

The reason? Minnesota faces Iowa this weekend at Siebert Field, and the Gophers haven’t lost to the Hawkeyes since May 11th, 1996.

Minnesota (26-20, 14-6 Big Ten) has taken the last 23 games from Iowa, and the players hope to hold on to their streak.

“I remember my freshman year, the older guys talking about how they haven’t lost to Iowa,” junior Luke Appert said. “It’s just kind of been a tradition since I’ve been here. I’d definitely like to keep it going if I could.”

But the Hawkeyes (21-24, 10-13) won’t go down easy. With two weekends left in the season, they are still in the hunt to make the Big Ten tournament, a feat they haven’t accomplished since 1994.

In addition, Iowa would like to remove the 0-23 monkey from its back.

“It’s frustrating,” Iowa coach Scott Broghamer said. “I know Minnesota has had good baseball teams, but we’ve had opportunities in those 23 games to come out on top and we haven’t been able to do it.

“We’ve got to come up and start a streak of our own.”

But the Gophers can’t dwell on sweeping the Hawkeyes for tradition’s sake. Instead, they have the Big Ten standings to worry about.

Minnesota is leading the league in winning percentage (.700) and no matter what second place Ohio State does against Michigan State this weekend, a Gophers sweep would mean they need to win a maximum of one game against the Buckeyes in the season’s final weekend.

But as Minnesota coach John Anderson is quick to point out, the Gophers sweep of Purdue last weekend was the only sweep in the Big Ten this season.

“The odds of it happening again aren’t that good,” Anderson said. “We’ve just got to worry about playing good baseball.”

This series with Iowa is Minnesota’s last home series of the regular season. The first pitch of game one is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Siebert Field.

Anderson to set wins mark

With one more victory, Anderson will set the all-time career record for coaching wins at 755, surpassing his mentor and legendary former coach Dick Siebert.

Anderson passed Siebert last season for most Big Ten victories, and is the only coach to boast more than 300 wins in the conference. Anderson said passing his former coach is bittersweet, but he’s proud to carry on the tradition Siebert started.

“It’s always been an honor and a privilege for me to coach here. I’ve always looked at it that way,” Anderson said. “I’ve never taken the tradition or the success of the program here for granted. That’s driven me from the first day I took the job until the last day I leave here; that will always drive me.

“This program is special, and I think we owe it to all the great players and coaches that came before us to carry the tradition on, and it starts with giving your best effort every day.”

Kennedy honored

Senior Jason Kennedy has been named to the 2002 Verizon/CoSIDA District V All-Academic Baseball Team.

Kennedy, a commercial recreation major, joins 10 other players from around the region with cumulative grade point averages of 3.25 or higher. He will move on to represent the district as an Academic All-America candidate.

Welch shares honors

Junior Scott Welch was named co-Big Ten Player of the Week last week. Welch hit .500 in six games last week, scoring eight runs and knocking in 12. He slugged .864 and totaled 19 bases during the week. The shortstop also made seven putouts and 18 assists without an error.

Anthony Maggio covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected]