Three-year streak ends in sweep

The Gophers lost a 24-series Big Ten unbeaten streak when Purdue swept them.

Matt Perkins

Young talent stole the show for Minnesota’s baseball team, but it didn’t help, as Purdue stole the weekend series.

The Boilermakers swept the Gophers at Lambert Field in West Lafayette, Ind., 5-2 on Friday, 6-2, 3-0 on Saturday and 7-3 on Sunday.

The Gophers got impressive performances from sophomores John Gaub and Taylor VanderAarde on Sunday, but Minnesota’s pitching staff crumbled, and the Gophers’ defense let them down.

With the series loss, the Gophers snapped a 24-series unbeaten streak in the Big Ten. It was the Gophers’ first Big Ten series loss since April 20, 2002, and it dropped them out of first place in the conference, with Illinois taking a three-game lead.

“You come in hoping to win at least a couple on the road,” senior third baseman David Hrncirik said. “We still have to take it one series at a time, or else, it’s not going to matter.”

Things looked good from the outset Friday, with senior Matt Loberg dominating the first three innings and holding Purdue scoreless while striking out three. The Gophers also scored first in the second with a solo home run from Jake Elder.

Then, the Boilermakers started to catch up to Loberg.

He gave up two runs in the fourth, two more in the sixth and one in the seventh, when Andy Peters relieved him and allowed an inherited runner to score.

Saturday’s doubleheader didn’t go any better for the Gophers.

The first game saw a rough outing for sophomore Cole DeVries, as he gave up five runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings. The Gophers managed only four hits in the game and lost 6-2.

In the second game Saturday, Brian Bull gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings and provided the Gophers’ bats a chance to win. But again, they struggled at the plate, managing only two hits while getting shut out by Boilermakers starter Brent Coudron.

The Gophers were hoping a Sunday win could help save some face.

And their young guns did their best.

Freshman Dustin Brabender allowed just three runs on four hits in five innings before handing the ball over to Gaub.

Gaub inherited two runners from Brabender, and they both scored, but Gaub shut down the Boilermakers from there. He gave up just two hits in two scoreless innings.

VanderAarde did his share, too. He went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs in just the 10th start of his career. It was also the first home run of his career.

But the Gophers’ defense committed five errors in the game, blowing at one point a two-run lead to lose the game 7-3.

“Obviously, I expect us to make the plays,” Hrncirik said. “Sometimes, things just don’t click, but I expect they will.”

Minnesota committed nine errors on the weekend. But the team said it isn’t too concerned about defense being a problem down the stretch.

Senior catcher Elder said there isn’t a whole lot to say after getting swept by Purdue.

“We’re totally disappointed,” Elder said. “There’s nothing else to say about it. We’re disappointed.”