Big win needed against Jackrabbits

Minnesota is 10 games under .500 with 13 games left in the season.

Trevor Born

Usually, a midweek game against a non-conference team is a chance for Gophers baseball coach John Anderson to get freshmen playing time and to work on the finer points of the game.

up next

Gophers vs. South Dakota State
when: 6:35 p.m. tonight
where: Siebert Field

But when the Gophers play South Dakota State tonight, the goal will be different.

“We’re making it a big priority to come out and win that game, and not just win it, but try to win pretty handily,” third baseman Nate Hanson said.

“Wednesday is going to be all about getting a win,” starter Kyle Carr added. “We haven’t had one in a while and we want to get that good feeling back, something to go from.”

The Gophers (16-26, 6-14 Big Ten) have lost eight of their last nine games, including their last three midweek games, and are winding down one of the worst seasons in program history.

They are on pace to finish 21-35, which would be their worst finish in almost 80 years, when the wool jersey-clad 1929 team finished 6-11.

They are 10 games under .500 with 13 games left, and if they finish with a losing record, it would be the first time in 46 years.

“It’s amazing it hasn’t happened more often, to be honest,” Anderson said. “I don’t look at it as a terrible thing. It could happen to any team at any time; nobody’s immune.”

Anderson said he is afraid that the streak has worn on his players. The Gophers’ season, which began with wins against ranked teams Tulane, Pepperdine and then-No.2 Missouri, has begun to snowball the past month.

“You can’t let the expectations and the history of the program affect how you play,” he said. “I think that this team especially has been haunted by that at times because they recognize the history and tradition, and when it starts to go bad you say, ‘Oh I don’t want to be a part of that team that doesn’t continue the trend.’

“But you have to realize that if it happens it happens, and then you get cleansed and try to start a new streak. We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success in our program, and we’re going to respect our honor and tradition and keep the mentality that this is just a blip on the radar screen and we’ll get it fixed.”

The low point of the season came this past weekend when the Gophers blew late-inning leads in both their games Saturday, including giving up four runs in the final inning to lose 7-4, as they were swept in four games by Purdue.

They came into the weekend seventh in the Big Ten, but dropped into a tie for last place. Only the top six finishers in the conference make the Big Ten tournament, which Minnesota hasn’t missed in 10 years.

With one-third of their conference games left against first-place Michigan, it seems likely that the Big Ten tournament streak will be another streak to end this year, and Anderson knows it.

“I’m not even worried about making the Big Ten tournament,” he said. “Right now I’m worried about just playing at a higher level. Until we can do that, the tournament isn’t going to happen.”