Buckeyes end win streak, fall hard Sunday

Former Chicago Cubs shortstop Ernie Banks should be proud of what the Minnesota and Ohio State baseball teams pulled off this weekend.
Famous for his phrase “lets play two,” the Hall-of-Famer would have seen a pair of doubleheaders had he been at Siebert Field on Saturday and Sunday, thanks to a Friday freeze-out.
But for the Gophers and Buckeyes, they probably wish they only played one twinbill — Minnesota prefers Sunday’s and Ohio State will take Saturday’s.
The Buckeyes swept the Gophers 6-3 and 7-3 in Saturday’s set. But Minnesota rebounded to win the next pair of games, 13-5 and 7-1, on Sunday.
Following the Gophers’ (19-13, 6-2 Big Ten) two losses Saturday — which ended their 10-game win streak — coach John Anderson grouped his team on the first base line for the routine end-of-the-day talk.
“He told us we can’t accept defeat,” sophomore third baseman Jack Hannahan said.
The Gophers must have slept with that thought in their minds Saturday night. They came out Sunday looking to pick up the split.
But Anderson didn’t want to take the credit for the way his team played Sunday.
“They have to motivate themselves, they don’t need me for that,” Anderson said. “But I told them we didn’t play that poorly on Saturday, it just wasn’t our day, things didn’t go our way.
“I just told them to come out with a better attitude and be more determined. I thought we played more like we were playing ‘try not to lose,’ rather than playing to win.
Anderson was quick to point the credit for the hard-earned split in the direction of Sunday’s starting pitchers, Chadd Clarey and Kelly Werner.
Clarey, a senior, pitched six solid innings in the first game, picking up his fourth win of the season.
Werner followed, giving up just a lone run over his seven inning, complete-game win. The senior is now 4-3 on the season.
The pitching allowed the Gophers to put some pop back in their bats.
Both Clarey and Werner shut down the Buckeyes’ batters early in their respective game, which allowed the Gophers’ hitters to put some room between the teams.
Minnesota’s sluggers knocked home 20 runs over the two games, including a six-run burst in the sixth inning of game two that gave the Gophers the doubleheader sweep.
After winning the first two games of the series, Ohio State (21-11, 4-4) coach Bob Todd said he was not happy with walking off the diamond with just the a pair of wins.
“A split is like kissing your sister,” Todd said. “Minnesota did a better job (Sunday) of playing baseball than we did.”
And while the Gophers might not be thrilled about a split either, they know things could have been worse. Especially as they make a run at the conference championship.
“If you want to win the league, you can’t lose three out of four, or get swept on any given weekend,” Anderson said. “We needed to win these couple of games to get back on track.”

John R. Carter covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected].