One hit was enough in 1-0 win over Iowa

Derek Wetmore

It wasn’t a pretty ballgame, but the Gophers baseball team will take Big Ten wins any way it can get them. Minnesota (15-16, 7-6 Big Ten) beat Iowa 1-0 in a brisk, well-pitched game in which it recorded only one hit.

The one hit was a Troy Larson triple in the fourth. He came around to score on a Justin Gominsky sacrifice fly and that was all the Gophers would need to hold off the Hawkeyes.

Starter TJ Oakes pitched seven innings, allowed seven hits and struck out seven while walking three. He combined with Billy Soule and Scott Matyas for a shutout. Oakes escaped a bases loaded jam in the first frame before settling down with the help of catcher Kurt Schlangen.

“They had a lot of opportunites to score some runs. The first inning was key,” head coach John Anderson said. “TJ was able to get himself out of the first inning jam with the bases loaded and Kurt Schlangen did a nice job back there calling the game.”

Schlangen threw out two would-be base stealers, picked off a runner from first and blocked the plate nicely to cut down a run on a relay from center field in the sixth inning.

“I think it’s always important to get outs wherever you can,” Larson said. “We took advantage of their aggressiveness.”

The Hawkeyes left nine men on base and failed to provide any support to Jarred Hippen, who went the distance in a one-hit loss.

Hippen (2-5) pitched eight innings with just the one run allowed, and faced only one batter over the minimum. He declined comment after the game because he was not pleased with the results after how well he pitched. Minnesota hit only one ball hard all day – a Nick O’Shea hot shot to third in the second inning – and even that went for an out.

“We couldn’t square anything up against him or time him. He’s one of those funky left-handers and he did a nice job,” Anderson said. “The velocity is not the thing, it’s whether you can keep the ball both sides of the plate.”

Hippen threw the ball in the low-eighties with a change-up in the seventies but he kept Gophers hitters off balance all day even though he only mixed in a half-dozen changeups. The lefty threw with a low arm slot and had an unconventional arm action that gave his pitches late movement, according to second baseman Matt Puhl.

Hard-luck loser Hippen threw a complete game the last time he face Minnesota, too, in which he struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter. This time he struck out two and didn’t walk anybody in the 118-minute affair.

Anderson moved typical leadoff hitter AJ Petterson down to the third spot in the order with a left-hander on the mound. Petterson has been the Gophers most consistent hitter this year and Anderson said he was looking to get him a few more RBI chances and also get runners on in front of cleanup hitter O’Shea. He indicated that he may not stick with the change, but said he has not yet decided if he’ll keep the new-look lineup that had Larson batting leadoff.