Hrncirik makes way to top

David Hrncirik has always been a good example. Now, he’s a good leadoff hitter.

by Matt Perkins

In 2001, a scrawny freshman walked into Minnesota’s baseball tryouts as an undeveloped shortstop/pitcher from Madison, Wis.

Lightly recruited with few expectations of developing into a talented player, nobody could have foreseen the career that unraveled for now-senior third baseman David Hrncirik.

Especially coach John Anderson.

Anderson has since developed a great affection for Hrncirik, who he said has paid attention to detail and stayed consistent in his overachieving work ethic. Now, Hrncirik serves as the Gophers’ poster child for recruiting local baseball talent.

“Of all the walk-ons – and we’ve had a lot of good walk-ons in my career here – David Hrncirik may be the best of them,” Anderson said. “I could never have predicted he was going to have the kind of success he has had.”

Hrncirik currently leads the team in batting average (.367), slugging percentage (.467), on-base percentage (.433) and stolen bases (11). He is also second on the team in runs scored, with 11.

But his numbers, however impressive, have a hard time overshadowing his on-field ability to lead.

So with Anderson concerned about the team’s inconsistency on offense early this season, he made the move to put Hrncirik at the leadoff spot.

Hrncirik has given him no reason to reconsider the switch.

Since making the move to the top of the lineup March 12 against Lousiana-Lafeyette, Hrncirik has hit safely in nine of the Gophers’ 10 games, going 15-for-34, with eight runs scored and nine stolen bases.

“I haven’t been in (the leadoff) spot in a long time,” Hrncirik said. “But I feel fairly comfortable there. I get to see some early strikes that I wouldn’t necessarily see later in the batting order.”

The move was made largely because of his ability to show Anderson consistent results with his glove, his bat and on-the-base paths during his entire career.

Hrncirik was put into the lineup midway through his redshirt freshman season in 2002 and has since played in all but one of the Gophers’ 162 games. The only game he missed was a midweek contest with South Dakota State last season.

“When it comes to David, one word stands out – ‘consistency,’ ” junior shortstop Matt Fornasiere said. “He has turned out to be, potentially, a star in the Big Ten.”

This year, Hrncirik’s play is being counted on to help the offense overcome a slumping start going into Big Ten play this weekend against Michigan.

And his coach said he doesn’t doubt he can do it.

“He is having his best year,” Anderson said. “He has been a tremendous addition to this program. Hard worker, plays with confidence. He’s a winner.”

Loberg earns award

Senior Matt Loberg was named Big Ten co-pitcher of the week after eight shutout innings in a 7-0 win over Butler on Friday. He also had a career-high nine strikeouts.