Bottom of the order propels Gophers

Minnesota’s Kyle Geason takes a cut during a game at the Metrodome this year. The true freshman went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI from the nine-spot in the lineup against North Dakota State Wednesday, as the Gophers slugged their way to an 8-1 midweek win.

Ashley Goetz

Minnesota’s Kyle Geason takes a cut during a game at the Metrodome this year. The true freshman went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI from the nine-spot in the lineup against North Dakota State Wednesday, as the Gophers slugged their way to an 8-1 midweek win.

Abundant offense has become the norm lately for the Minnesota baseball team, and Wednesday night was no different. Then again, it wasnâÄôt the same either, because for the first time in seemingly weeks, that offense wasnâÄôt spurred by an AJ or a Derek. Instead, the Gophers sluggers combined for an 0-7 evening against North Dakota State. But no AJ Pettersen? No Derek McCallum? No problem. Redshirt freshman Nick OâÄôShea, freshman Kyle Geason and junior Eric Decker more than made up for it and Minnesota rolled past the Bison 8-1 in Fargo. With the rate Pettersen and McCallum have produced at the plate recently, they were due for a poor performance eventually. But while the two have attracted the majority of the attention from opposing pitchers, the rest of MinnesotaâÄôs lineup has been spreading the offense around and producing at an impressive clip. GeasonâÄôs average isnâÄôt likely to strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers, but heâÄôs consistently found a way on base from the bottom of the order. Despite hitting just .236, Geason is second in the Big Ten with 31 walks and holds a .430 on-base percentage. And in recent weeks, heâÄôs been showing flashes of the hitter he may become. Wednesday night, he went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI. OâÄôShea, on the other hand, lacks GeasonâÄôs patience. HeâÄôs been issued only six free passes this year, the least of any Gophers starters. During a dry spell early in the season, his lack of production at the plate was a glaring problem. HeâÄôs rebounded, however, and his average has climbed to .256, surely still lower than heâÄôd like, but a marked improvement. On Wednesday, he belted his sixth home run of the season and notched three RBIs. Head coach John Anderson certainly doesnâÄôt mind seeing the six and nine spots leading the way in a win. âÄúIâÄôve said this before; you canâÄôt be a consistent offensive team unless you have people through the lineup that pick you up on different days,âÄù Anderson said. Of course, it helped that the BisonâÄôs first pitcher was essentially lobbing the ball over the plate. Geason said his fastball topped out around 75 mph. With all day to load up for the ball, itâÄôs no surprise the Gophers scored seven-plus runs for the sixth straight game. And after a tough series loss last weekend to Illinois and another Big Ten series against Purdue looming, a commanding midweek win is just what Minnesota needed, OâÄôShea said. âÄúWeâÄôve done a good job bouncing back from tough losses but it always helps to get a good win before an important weekend series.âÄù