McCallum continues to pound the ball as Gophers win fifth straight

McCallum continues to pound the ball as Gophers win fifth straight

Matt Mead

Behind a pair of home runs, junior second baseman Derek McCallum notched six RBIs for the second-consecutive game as the Minnesota baseball team outlasted South Dakota State 9-6 on Wednesday afternoon. The Gophers (22-10 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) escaped a two-run scare in the ninth inning by the Jackrabbits to close out a five-game undefeated stretch. âÄúWe always expect a battle when we come out here for the midweek games. We know everyone is going to bring their âÄòAâÄô games, and we have to bring ours too,âÄù McCallum said. âÄúTheyâÄôve got a good team and we know that. ItâÄôs tough to get in a rhythm when they bring a guy out of the bullpen every single inning.âÄù South Dakota State used eight different pitchers in the game to keep the Gophers batters guessing, but five errors by the Jackrabbits defense gave the game to Minnesota. âÄúThey were generous on defense for us,âÄù Gophers coach John Anderson said, less than pleased with his teamâÄôs lack of offensive consistency. âÄúWe didnâÄôt have great at bats today through the lineup.âÄù In fact the bottom half of MinnesotaâÄôs lineup recorded only one hit in the win, leaving the remaining nine for the top of the order. Senior designated hitter Matt Nohelty picked up two hits leading off for Minnesota as did redshirt freshman shortstop AJ Pettersen, who also made it on base after taking a pitch to the head in the fourth inning. With both Nohelty and Pettersen on base, McCallum belted a three-run shot to left field in the next at-bat that put Minnesota ahead for the first time. âÄúEvery time I get on, he seems to hit a homerun now,âÄù Pettersen said. âÄúHeâÄôs hitting the crap out of the ball. ItâÄôs fun to watch.âÄù In the eighth, Pettersen was again on base with a double when McCallum sent his second homerun of the night 374 feet over the right field fence âÄî for his team high seventh home run. The Shoreview native, who now has three homeruns in the last two games after hitting only four in the teamâÄôs first 30 games, went 3-for-4 with an RBI single in sixth and also scored on scored on a dribbler to first by junior catcher Kyle Knudson after drawing a walk. âÄúHeâÄôs seeing the ball pretty well right now and heâÄôs a confident player,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúIâÄôm not surprised by anything Derek does at this stage in his career because heâÄôs worked hard, heâÄôs prepared and he knows how to play the game.âÄù Sophomore reliever Scott Fern improved his record to 2-1 with the win after allowing three hits in just over three innings of scoreless baseball. Sophomore starter Dustin Klabunde earned a no-decision after giving up four earned runs and 10 hits in four innings of work. The Gophers travel to Illinois this weekend for a three-game series.