Missouri walks away with big win over Minnesota

The combination of errant pitching against hot bats is a dangerous one âÄî a lesson the University of Minnesota baseball team is all too aware of after Wednesday afternoon. Gophers pitchers walked 14, hit five batters and surrendered 13 hits as Missouri ran away with the midweek finale, 20-5. The teams split their two-game series; Minnesota won 7-3 on Tuesday . Midweek games will always test the depth of a pitching staff, so WednesdayâÄôs utter breakdown would seemingly be a cause for concern. Instead, the Gophers are writing it off as a fluke. âÄúI have all the confidence in our pitching staff,âÄù sophomore reliever Luke Rasmussen , who pitched four shutout innings in Tuesday nightâÄôs win , said. âÄú[Wednesday] was just one of those days where we didnâÄôt get the bounces, didnâÄôt get the calls and pitches just got hit. ThatâÄôs going to happen from time to time.âÄù It took only an inning to realize the day was headed for disaster. Though sophomore Dustin Klabunde recorded two outs before the Tigers (16-17 overall) notched a run, he walked three of the first five batters he faced to load the bases. Then Klabunde, who allowed a single that cleared the bases thanks to an error by centerfielder Eric Decker, proceeded to hit the next batter and surrendered a two-run double to Kyle Mach before Minnesota (17-10) stopped the bleeding. In the second, however, the bleeding worsened. Again the Gophers recorded two outs with minimal damage, but again Missouri rallied. A two-run home run by Trevor Coleman prompted an early exit for Klabunde, but his replacement, Tyler Oakes, fared no better in his two-thirds inning of work. The Tigers plated six more two-out runs once Oakes took the mound to take a staggering 14-1 lead after two innings. Oakes would last just an out into the third. He was yanked after consecutively hitting two and walking one batter. Naturally, Missouri tagged OakesâÄô relief, sophomore Scott Fern, for four runs in his three and one-third innings. âÄúIâÄôm going to chalk it up as one of those days, and weâÄôll move on,âÄù head coach John Anderson said. As opposed to a close loss that is often emotionally draining, he doesnâÄôt believe a game like this, which was out of MinnesotaâÄôs reach almost immediately, will stick with the players. Along with the ball, it seemed control issues were passed from one pitcher to the next throughout the game. Junior catcher Kyle Knudson , who hit two home runs in the series, said the pitchers were working with a small strike zone, though that may have been caused by their control issues. âÄúWe werenâÄôt around the plate a whole lot, so itâÄôs tough for the ump to call the close ones strikes,âÄù Knudson said. âÄúThe strike zone might have been a little bit of a factor, but the inconsistency also was a factor.âÄù As MinnesotaâÄôs deficit widened, Anderson inserted a handful of younger Gophers who see minimal playing time into the game. Freshman Sam Ryan, redshirt freshman Trip Schultz and sophomore Drew Hanish each had at least one at-bat and Ryan and Hanish made appearances in the field. âÄúNot all was lost,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúWe tried to use the day as it went along to say, âÄòIf you get the opportunity to play, use it to try and get better.âÄô I thought the kids plugged away as the day went along, didnâÄôt quit playing, and I think we did get something out of it.âÄù