Emotional series ends poorly

After winning the first game, the Gophers lost Saturday at Target Field and again Sunday.

Gophers sophomore short stop Troy Larson catches a hit ball on Saturday at Target Field.

Gophers sophomore short stop Troy Larson catches a hit ball on Saturday at Target Field.

Aleutian Calabay

The Minnesota baseball team created a lot of local buzz as it played the first ever game at Target Field against Louisiana Tech. Unfortunately, the GophersâÄô play on the field throughout the series could not live up the excitement as they dropped two of three to the Bulldogs. Minnesota won 3-2 on Friday, lost 9-1 at Target Field on Saturday and fell 5-2 back at the Metrodome on Sunday. The struggles for the Gophers (continue as they fell behind early in all three games and were only able to work their way out of a hole in the first game of the series with a few timely hits and a strong pitching perfomance by Seth Rosin . âÄúItâÄôs extremely hard [to play from behind],âÄù second baseman Matt Puhl said. âÄúEspecially at home we want to come out shut them down, but itâÄôs something that we need to work on in the futureâĦ getting on the scoreboard first.âÄù The pitching staff remains a work in progress as the team has a difficult time backing up one solid start with another. But a larger issue plaguing the Gophers right now is their inability to produce a timely hit. Despite being outscored 16-6 by Louisiana Tech in the series, Minnesota outhit the Bulldogs 29-26. The lack of a crucial hit throughout the series caused the Gophers to leave a staggering 26 runners left of base. âÄúOur problem is that we canâÄôt get a big hit with runners in scoring position,âÄù Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. âÄúWeâÄôve been taking pitches we should be hitting and swinging at pitches outside the strike zone, and it hasnâÄôt just been certain people but throughout the lineup.âÄù The Gophers began the first game against Louisiana Tech down 2-0 as the BulldogsâÄô Alex Williams delivered a two-run single in the top of the third inning off Rosin. However, Rosin settled in after that, holding the Bulldogs to just those two runs, while pitching a career-high eight innings, striking out eight along the way. Meanwhile Minnesota continued to chip away at the plate. An RBI single from Puhl got the Gophers on the board in the fifth inning. Minnesota tied the game at two with a run in the sixth inning and took the lead as Kyle Geason tripled home Puhl for the eventual game-winning run. The much-heralded second game of the series at Target Field was not the game the Gophers were hoping to play in front of what will undoubtedly be the largest home crowd they play in front of this season. On the large stage, freshman TJ Oakes started well to prevent the Bulldogs from putting together a big inning as he pitched out of tough jams in both the first and second innings. But eventually the runs began adding up as Oakes finished the game throwing 5 1/3 innings, giving up five runs, four earned on six hits. âÄúIt was tough to pitch in that first inning,âÄù Oakes said. âÄúThe crowd was all into it, but you treat it as any other game and play your game and do what you need to do, and I think I settled in after that first inning.âÄù The Minnesota bullpen did not fair any better than Oakes as they gave up four more runs in 3 2/3 innings. Trailing 9-0 in the bottom of the ninth inning, and with the crowd quickly depleting, the Gophers managed to avoid the shutout as an AJ Pettersen sacrifice fly scored Geason for MinnesotaâÄôs only run. âÄúThey [the Gophers players] were excited,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúThey enjoyed it, and it was a totally different environment than weâÄôre used to playing in with the stadium and the crowd and the different things that go on out there.âÄù The Gophers opened the final game of the series with an unusual 1-0 lead as Troy Larson smashed a double and was driven home on a Michael Kvasnicka single. The one-run advantage didnâÄôt last long as the Bulldogs answered right back with a pair of runs in the top of the second inning. Louisiana Tech then began taking control of the game with three more runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-1 lead. Minnesota got one run back in the bottom of the fifth as Geason scored on a line drive double by Puhl. The GophersâÄô last scoring threat came in the sixth inning as they loaded the bases with two outs, but pinch-hitter Kurt Schlangen struck out to end the inning. âÄúThis was a series with a lot of emotion,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúThereâÄôs some highs, thereâÄôs some lows and thereâÄôs some disappointment, but you have to move forward and work on getting better.âÄù