Gophers start season strong with two wins

Minnesota traveled to Fort Myers, Fla. to take on Akron.

by Aleutian Calabay

The Minnesota baseball team traveled to Fort Myers, Fla. looking to answer some early season questions. Winning two of three games against Akron by scores of 6-0 , 2-4 and 1-0 gave the Gophers several answers about the makeup of their team. If this weekend was any indication, pitching and defense will be the teamâÄôs formula to try to win a lot of games over the course of the season. âÄúHopefully we can get better on offense. We have some work to do there, but we have some talent. It will just take time to get the young guys some experience,âÄù Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. The Gophers opened the series against Akron with a 6-0 win as juniors Seth Rosin and Scott Fern split time on the mound for the shutout, with each giving up only three hits. The Gophers received solid production at the plate from center fielder Brooks Albrecht, who went 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Right fielder Michael Kvasnicka went 1-4 with a deep home run to left field to cap the GophersâÄô scoring. Game two did not get off to a good start for Minnesota as Akron jumped on Gophers starter Luke Rasmussen for three runs in the top of the first inning. Rasmussen settled in to pitch five innings, giving up just the three runs. But he was outdueled by Zips starter Andrew Brown who kept the Gophers bats in check for seven innings, giving up just one earned run on five hits while striking out seven. The pitching duels continued into game three as Minnesota starter Allen Bechstein battled AkronâÄôs Benjamin Danziger . Bechstein, Billy Soule and Phil Isaksson combined on the GophersâÄô second shutout of the weekend, while DanzigerâÄôs only big mistake of the game came in the bottom of the ninth inning. With the score knotted at zero, he threw a fastball that Kvasnicka smashed over the right-field wall to give Minnesota the walk-off win. âÄúI canâÄôt remember a first series of the season in which both teams played so well,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúIt was a very competitive series, and we were fortunate to come out on top.âÄù The GophersâÄô pitching staff appeared to be in top form this weekend. They combined to give up four runs on 22 hits, while giving up six walks and striking out 16. The Minnesota defense also appeared to be in mid-season form as they committed only one error throughout the series while turning three double-plays. âÄúThere are some years that we only have one or two shutouts in a season, so to have two shutouts in the first weekend shows the high level our guys are at,âÄù Anderson said. Although nine runs in three games is not a high scoring output, pitchers often tend to hold the advantage early in the season as players are refining their swings. Besides the two home runs by Kvasnicka, the Gophers also had some solid hits from first baseman Nick OâÄôShea, who finished the series with five hits, two RBIs and a run scored. Second baseman Matt Puhl added four hits. Minnesota has only two seniors on its entire roster, giving the Gophers an abundance of youth at the plate, which will require patience as they continue to work on their swings. âÄúOur team has such good dynamics this year,âÄù Kvasnicka said. âÄúI really like the feel of this team with our day in and day out effort. I think we have the right outlook, especially for a team with a lot of young guys.âÄù