Cornhuskers’ bats too much for Gophers baseball

Down 2-1 in the fifth before tying the game, Nebraska scored a run in the sixth, two in the seventh and three in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Anthony Maggio

After grinding through two weeks and ten games away from Siebert Field, Minnesota’s baseball team wanted to come home on a positive note. But fourth-ranked Nebraska (34-11) proved too much for the road-weary Gophers (27-15, 15-3 Big Ten), knocking off Minnesota 9-2 in Lincoln, Neb., on Wednesday night.

It was the Gophers’ second loss to the Cornhuskers this season – the first coming March 2 in the Dairy Queen Classic at the Metrodome.

“Nebraska’s one of the elite teams in the country,” coach John Anderson said. “They’ve got great depth at pitching and they’re awful good at home.”

Nebraska center fielder Jeff Leise scored in the first on a balk from pitcher Craig Molldrem. Leise was Minnesota’s biggest nemesis in the first meeting when he went 4-for-6 with four runs scored and three RBIs.

By the end of Wednesday’s contest, Leise had again done his part to do in the Gophers, going 4-for-5 with three runs scored, one RBI, and a stolen base.

As a team, Nebraska was too tough at the plate and finished with 14 hits in eight innings.

“They just found holes,” second baseman Luke Appert said. “They executed the hit-and-run a couple of times and got some good bunts down.”

Brian Bull, a native of Omaha, took just his second loss of the season for the Gophers out of the bullpen, as he gave up four runs on six hits in two and two-thirds innings.

Bull surrendered Minnesota’s only lead – a 2-1 advantage – in the fifth inning as Leise tripled home a run then scored on a base hit from Nebraska first baseman Matt Hopper.

The Cornhuskers added a run in the sixth, two in the seventh and three in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

Minnesota managed just two hits and no runs in the final five innings.

“They pitched extremely well with three lefties against our lineup with a lot of left-handed hitters,” Anderson said. “They had good location on all their pitches and we had a hard time generating any offense against them.”

The Gophers return to action Friday in the start of a four-game home series with Purdue.

Giel’s jersey to be retired

The Minnesota baseball program will hold a ceremony at Siebert Field on May 17 at 3:40 p.m., immediately prior to the Minnesota-Ohio State baseball game to retire the late Paul Giel’s No. 34 jersey.

Giel played baseball at Minnesota from 1952-54 and is in the top 10 in five different career pitching categories. He has held the Gophers’ all-time strikeout record for 48 years with 243.

His No. 10 football jersey was also retired. Giel was named the Big Ten MVP twice, was a two-time All-American, and finished second to Notre Dame’s Johnny Lattner in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1953. He also served as Minnesota’s director of athletics for 18 years from 1971-1988.

Giel passed away May 22, 2002.

Anthony Maggio covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected]