Young Gophers fall to three Big East squads

Minnesota squandered two comeback efforts in the tournament.

Aleutian Calabay

The Minnesota baseball team may be looking for new rally caps following a weekend in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Gophers were swept in the Big Ten/Big East Baseball Challenge as comeback efforts came up just short in two of the three games. Minnesota opened the weekend with a tough 5-4 loss to St. JohnâÄôs on Friday, then had no answer for Connecticut on Saturday as they fell 8-2 . The GophersâÄô rally once again fell just short on Sunday as they lost 5-4 to No. 13 Louisville. âÄúItâÄôs not a sprint, itâÄôs a marathon, and weâÄôre going to be challenged to score consistently until we get more experience,âÄù Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. âÄúI think weâÄôre starting to get better as some of the younger guys are starting to figure it out, and over time weâÄôll become a better offensive team, but we can pitch and play defense and thatâÄôs a good place to start.âÄù After having a solid start to the season against Akron last weekend, the startersâÄô performances fell off against the Big East. The three starters combined to throw just 11 1/3 innings, giving up 11 runs (eight earned) as well as a total of 21 hits. MinnesotaâÄôs bats were once again limited as the team scored a total of 10 runs in the three games. AJ Pettersen was one of the bright spots all weekend for the Gophers as he went 5-for-11 on the weekend with three RBIs and two runs scored. Justin Gominsky , who had been fighting injuries to start the season, returned to the starting lineup going 4-for-8 in the first two games, before going 0-for-5 on Sunday. âÄúOur team was in a good place,âÄù Gominisky said. âÄúWe had a good overall weekend, our record just didnâÄôt show it.âÄù The GophersâÄô weekend got off to a rough start as the St. JohnâÄôs batters quickly jumped on Minnesota starter Seth Rosin for four runs in the first three innings. Gophers relief pitcher Scott Fern came in and shut down the Red Storm through the middle innings while a Nick OâÄôShea RBI single closed the gap to 4-2. St. JohnâÄôs got an insurance run in the top of ninth, but Minnesota came charging back in the bottom half as a Michael Kvasnicka RBI single was followed by an OâÄôShea RBI double that nearly missed being a walk-off shot for Minnesota. Kyle Knudson struck out to end the GophersâÄô rally. Minnesota once again found themselves playing from behind on Saturday as Connecticut plated two first inning runs against starter Luke Rasmussen . The Gophers answered back in the bottom of the first as Kvasnicka smashed his third home run of the season to tie the game at 2-2. Unfortunately for Minnesota, the bats went cold after that as the Gophers had no answer for Connecticut starter Greg Nappo. Meanwhile the Huskies scored three runs in the fourth inning and capped off their scoring with three runs in the ninth to put the game away. The Gophers started slow against Louisville. The Cardinals scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning to take an early lead. After Louisville upped its lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth, Minnesota began to come back in the top of the fifth as a Pettersen bases-loaded double scored two with no outs. But Minnesota missed a solid opportunity to add more runs as the next three hitters failed to get a hit. The Gophers continued to scratch their way back and tied the game 4-4 in the sixth inning off a Pettersen sacrifice fly. Phil Isaksson and Scott Matyas kept the Cardinals bats silent through the middle innings, but with the score tied 4-4 in the bottom of the ninth, LouisvilleâÄôs Phil Wunderlich smashed a Matyas pitch for a walk-off home run. âÄúI think this was a good opportunity for us to learn how to play from behind and compete,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúWe had some good at-bats, we just seemed to hit the ball right at somebody. Sometimes thereâÄôs some luck involved, too. We have some work to do, but hopefully some of those bounces will go our way if we stick with it.âÄù