Gophers drop three of four games to Illini

Robert Mews

The Dome just wasn’t homelike for Minnesota’s baseball team this weekend.

With three losses to Illinois this weekend, the Gophers are below .500 at the Metrodome this season and are sitting below the same number in conference play.

Minnesota’s (22-20, 9-11 Big Ten) 16-8 loss Sunday to the Illini (23-19, 10-10 Big Ten) pushes the Gophers into a four-way tie for fifth place in the Big Ten.

“I’m not happy about it,” coach John Anderson said. “We haven’t played well at home this year. We’ve played better on the road.”

Sunday’s game started with an outpouring of Illini hits and runs that resulted in pitcher Brian Bull being yanked in the top of the second inning.

“We got behind early,” Anderson said of Illinois’s five-run first inning. “Brian didn’t have location at all, and we were kind of fighting up hill the whole way here.”

Minnesota responded in the bottom of the first with its own three runs. But the game of catch-up slowed down when Illini reliever Brian Blomquist came to the mound.

“Blomquist slowed us down a little bit,” Anderson said. “We had a chance there if we could have shut them down, but it didn’t happen.”

Blomquist pitched five and one-thirds innings in relief of Illini starter Jake Stewart.

“We needed to get some more hits in there,” outfielder Bryan Jost said. “They were switching things up. We just needed to put up some more zeros up on defense.”

Part of the problem with putting zeroes on the board was that Dave Schultz was putting every ball into play.

Schultz went 5-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

“He swung the bat good this weekend,” Anderson said. “I think we made some mistakes to him and some with two strikes, but he’s an aggressive hitter.”

Schultz’s only no-hit game was Saturday’s second game.

Minnesota still lost the game 5-4, but part of that was pitcher John Gaub who walked three batters while giving up five runs in four innings.

“John’s not the pitcher he was the first two years,” Anderson said. “We’ve tried to keep getting him out there to see if he can’t keep getting better, but it doesn’t seem like he’s made any progress here for the last few weeks.”

The Gophers did make some progress in the win column in Saturday’s first game.

Minnesota was able to get many of its runs off the bat of Jost.

It was Jost who started a four-run inning in the second with a double to left center and it was Jost who got RBI hits in the seventh and eight innings.

“They gave me some pitches to hit,” he said. “They didn’t know much about me and I just didn’t wait. I just attacked.”

The Gophers also lost Friday, 4-3.

Cole Devries pitched six innings but reliever Andy Peters wasn’t able to keep the door closed.

Illinois got two runs in the seventh to tie the game and one in the eight to go atop and claim the first game.

“We’re all a little disappointed right now,” outfielder Matt Nohelty said. “But we just got to keep our heads up and try to turn it around coming into the last couple of series.”

Anderson gets extension

Anderson, who just attained his 400th career Big Ten victory last weekend, received a contract extension this weekend that will run through the 2010 season.

The terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

“I’m excited about it,” Anderson said. “I’ve spent close to 30 years here on the campus and associated with the baseball program. I’m excited about the present and future of the baseball program. I’m looking forward to trying to see the tradition grow and go on.”