Minn. mounts another comeback win

The Minnesota baseball team has chipped away at and eventually overcome so many deficits this season, itâÄôs hardly a surprise anymore when it happens. So youâÄôll excuse the Gophers for not getting too worked up about their 14th comeback win this season. A two-run single by junior catcher Kyle Knudson in the bottom of the 7th put Minnesota on top for good and the Gophers won the first game of their series against Iowa 4-3 Friday night at Siebert Field. âÄúTonight was another great comeback win for us,âÄù junior closer Scott Matyas, who struck out three to end the game, said. âÄúComing down the stretch in Big Ten play, every game is big, but we didnâÄôt panic tonight; weâÄôve stuck by it all year, play nine innings.âÄù The Hawkeyes (14-28 overall, 3-12 Big Ten) jumped to an early lead, and starter Chauncy Handran was fortunate to escape the first inning with only a run against. Three straight Iowa players reached base to open the game and leadoff man Kurtis Muller trotted home easily on a ground ball to Pettersen, who had to make a tough backhand play to get an out at second. A batter later, Handran served up a little easier ground ball for his defense. T.J. Cataldo dribbled a ball to second baseman Derek McCallum, who tagged the runner off of first and flipped to redshirt freshman first baseman Nick OâÄôShea for an inning-ending double play. The Gophers (28-13, 11-4) continue to be a double play machine, especially with Handran on the mound. They have turned a double play in 11 straight games and 15 this season when Handran is serving up his sinkers and sliders. Though Handran allowed only three runs in 6 innings, his outing was an odd one. Absent was the seniorâÄôs typical command, coupled with a plate that shrunk every time he became visibly upset with a call by home plate umpire Jim Mecha. A week ago, Handran put up similar numbers against Purdue, going 7 innings and allowing three runs, but he seemed much more in control. On Friday, he needed 111 pitches to work through six and walked five batters âÄúHe was up in the zone today, more than he usually is,âÄù head coach John Anderson said. âÄúBut once again, he did make some pitches when he had to to keep us in the game.âÄù KnudsonâÄôs eventually game-winning single was the first time Minnesota had a lead in the game. With the bases loaded after a pair of walks and a hit batter, Knudson slapped a two-strike single up the middle to score senior designated hitter Matt Nohelty and redshirt freshman shortstop AJ Pettersen and put the Gophers up by one. âÄúI was just sitting on a pitch on the outer half and he threw a fastball down the middle so I went with it,âÄù Knudson said. âÄúI kind of got fooled on the second pitch, the breaking ball, I wasnâÄôt expecting him to throw that there, otherwise that would have been a good pitch to hit too. But I got one to hit with two strikes.âÄù A one-run cushion was all Minnesota needed, though Iowa certainly didnâÄôt go quietly. Reliever Austin Lubinsky already had a perfect inning behind him by the time Knudson knocked in the go-ahead run and added another in the eighth. It came as perhaps a bit of a surprise that junior closer Scott Matyas didnâÄôt open the ninth, but with Lubinsky throwing well, pitching coach Todd Oakes opted to leave the freshman on the mound. âÄúStick with whatâÄôs going well, donâÄôt fix whatâÄôs not broken, itâÄôs that philosophy,âÄù Matyas said. âÄúWe go by that a lot.âÄù But a leadoff walk was all Oakes needed to defer to Matyas. The North Prairie, Wis. native made quick work of the Hawkeyes; he slid a walk of Wes Freie after striking out two but fanned T.J. Cataldo to end the game and earn his ninth save of the year and seventh in Big Ten play âÄì tying a Minnesota school record. âÄúMy job as a closer is to have them put the ball over the plate and have them put it in play and have our defense make plays behind me,âÄù Matyas said. âÄúLuckily, tonight they were swinging and missing.âÄù