Strong pitching leads Gophers to series victory in Michigan

Ace Tom Windle threw his fourth straight complete game Friday.

by Samuel Gordon

Junior ace Tom Windle opened the Gophers’ weekend with another dominant performance. Minnesota closed it with its first one-run victory of the season.

Not a bad way to begin Big Ten play.

The Gophers won two of three games at Michigan in their first conference series of the season.

It was Minnesota’s first road series since it played at Kansas State on March 19-20. Senior Kurt Schlangen said the team was comfortable being back in the elements.

“We were dressed for the cold weather, we were expecting the cold weather and we actually got two really nice days to play ball,” he said. “We were prepared, and it worked out pretty well.”

On Friday, game officials, fearing poor weather Sunday, decided to play a doubleheader Saturday instead.

The Wolverines shelled Minnesota 11-3 in the first game Saturday, which Gophers head coach John Anderson said was his team’s worst performance of the year.

“Terrible baseball game. The game had no flow or tempo,” he said. “We’re trying to piece it together again.”

The Gophers showed improvement in Saturday’s second game, which it won 2-1.

Junior righthander Alec Crawford was solid in his third start of the season. He threw 5.1 strong innings, allowed one unearned run and kept Minnesota in the game when its offense was struggling.

Crawford struggled in his last start against Texas, but he said he worked on his delivery during the week, and it made a significant difference.

“The coaching staff does a great job of getting our guys ready,” Crawford said. “We’ll be in a lot of close ball games. To get one today was big knowing that we got [our first one-run win] under our belt, and we can do it again.”

Junior lefty DJ Snelten took over for Crawford in the sixth inning and didn’t allow a run the rest of the way.

Anderson said he planned to pitch both Crawford and Snelten. Snelten picked up the win.

Senior left fielder Andy Henkemeyer’s RBI double in the seventh inning proved to be the game-winning hit.

With Windle on the mound Friday, the game was never in doubt. The junior continued his dominance this season with his fourth straight complete game in a 3-1 win.

Windle struck out a career-high 13 Michigan batters on just 103 pitches.

“Phenomenal. Just phenomenal stuff,” Anderson said. “He got a lot of strikeouts with three or four pitches … just a dominating performance from Tommy.”

The win came at a cost, though, as sophomore shortstop Michael Handel suffered an apparent leg injury while turning a double play.

“He’s hobbling pretty good,” Anderson said.

Handel will be evaluated Monday. Anderson said he’s hopeful Handel can return by the end of the week.