Gophers’ baseball team earns 6-3 win over Cyclones

Avoiding an embarrassing road loss to a weak Iowa State team, the Gophers baseball team rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to beat the Cyclones 6-3 Wednesday night.
Minnesota (20-13, 6-2 Big Ten) got strong pitching from all six of its hurlers. Led by starter C.J. Woodrow, the staff scattered just five hits over nine innings. Senior Nathan Bennett picked up the win, his first of the season.
“Everybody stepped up when they needed to,” Woodrow said of the pitching staff. “They all came in and got the job done.”
The job was simple: Keep Iowa State (10-25) close, so the Gophers hitters could do some damage from the plate.
That damage came in the top of the sixth. After trailing 2-0 through five innings, Minnesota would get all the offense they needed in that inning when they put a five spot on the board.
A two-run single by first baseman Josh Holthaus broke the inning open, and the Gophers never looked back.
“We were down early, but we stuck with it, didn’t get anxious and pulled it out,” Holthaus said.
Gophers coach John Anderson said he was pleased with the way his team played, especially the pitching of Woodrow.
The freshman bounced back from a rocky appearance against Ohio State last weekend, to throw three innings of one-run ball. He also struck out three, while walking none.
“It was good for C.J. to get back out there as soon as he could, so he doesn’t sit (on the bench) and stir,” Anderson said. “He’s a young player, and I think that will help his confidence.”
The Gophers now head to Evanston, Ill., for a four-game series against Northwestern beginning Friday.
Anderson said the Wildcats’ (15-14, 2-6) strength is their pitching, and he expects a low scoring series.
Northwestern’s staff is led by co-Big Ten pitcher of the week Gabe Ribas, who leads the conference with a 2.01 ERA.
As for the Gophers’ staff, Anderson said ace Ben Birk threw on the side Tuesday and has a 50-50 chance of starting one of the games Saturday. But Anderson said if Birk does throw, he will be on a strict pitch count of no more than 40.
Freshman Luke Appert and the rest of the Gophers understand they’ll need to win the series in order to keep pace with league-leading Illinois (10-2 in the Big Ten).
“We know we have to take three out of four or possibly sweep them if we want to stay up there with Illinois,” Appert said.
John R. Carter covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected].