Early starts key baseball’s weekend

The Gophers baseball team’s bats were about as silent on Saturday as students studying in Wilson Library.
The six runs during the doubleheader resulted in a Saturday sweep at the hands of Ohio State that ended Minnesota’s 10-game win streak.
So when the Gophers took to the batter’s box at Siebert Field on Sunday, they knew they had to make some noise if they wanted to turn the series around.
And loud they would get.
Minnesota made noise Sunday that could have gotten them kicked out of the library. But instead, the twinbill’s 20-run outburst gave the Gophers a doubleheader sweep of their own, and a split of the four-game series.
“In the two games (Saturday) we got behind and we were battling back the whole time, and that’s tough to do against a team like Ohio State,” said shortstop Rick Brosseau. “It was good to comeback and take two from them (Sunday).”
The Gophers’ 13-5 and 7-1 wins had the timely hitting that was non-existent during the two losses on Saturday.
In the first game, Minnesota jumped all over Buckeyes starting pitcher Brandon Steen early. Two runs in the first, three in the second and two more in the third chased the right-hander to the showers after just 2 2/3 innings.
By the time Ohio State got its first run on the board in the fourth, the Gophers were already cruising.
Minnesota coach John Anderson said his team plays more focused when it takes an early lead like it did in game one, as opposed to falling behind like the Gophers did Saturday.
“We play a lot better when we get ahead and we seem to play a lot more relaxed,” Anderson said. “I told them we were behind the whole day on Saturday and we were always chasing Ohio State.
“We couldn’t play at our pace, and I thought it was important that we got out in front (Sunday) to get the momentum back on our side.”
The momentum carried into Sunday’s second game for the Gophers. Although they didn’t jump out to a commanding early lead, their bats came to life when it counted.
With the game knotted at 1-1 to start the bottom of the sixth, Minnesota began to explode.
The first six Gophers batters of the inning all crossed the plate, and before Ohio State knew it, Minnesota had a 7-1 lead. Minnesota pitcher Kelly Werner closed the door on the Buckeyes in the seventh, sealing the win.
The way the hitting came alive Sunday, was a clear sign the Gophers will need to keep up their offensive attack throughout the season if they are going to contend for a Big Ten title.
“That is what the difference was today, the first two games we got behind and we didn’t get the timely hitting,” Brosseau said. “But (Sunday) we came out and got the timely hitting. That’s a real positive.”

John R. Carter covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected]