Gophers drop another close one to Jackrabbits

With the win, South Dakota St. completed a season sweep of Minnesota.

by Aleutian Calabay

The Minnesota baseball team simply canâÄôt catch a break as this season continues to trend toward one of disappointment. The Gophers found yet another way to lose on Tuesday afternoon as they dropped a back and forth game at South Dakota State, 12-11. The loss gives the Jackrabbits a three-game season sweep over Minnesota, each loss being by one or two runs. Close games continue to be a sore spot for the Gophers as they have now lost 13 games by either one or two runs. âÄúWe have to find a way to execute the fundamentals of the game,âÄù Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. âÄúObviously we havenâÄôt been able to do that consistently and today was another example. You canâÄôt have a winning season unless you win your share of one- or two-run games.âÄù Despite the loss, the Gophers (14-23 overall, 4-5 Big Ten) had several solid contributors including freshman Andy Henkemeyer , who continued his development as a hitter by going 3-for-5 with two runs scored. Junior Michael Kvasnicka continues to be a force in the middle of the Minnesota lineup as he went 2-for-2 with two RBIs, a run scored and three walks. Kyle Knudson and Nick OâÄôShea also provided timely hitting, each collecting a pair of RBIs. âÄúAll three games we played against them [South Dakota State] could have gone either way,âÄù Henkemeyer said. âÄúI feel like we should have won at least one of them, but today was more of the same as things were not timely for us.âÄù Minnesota starter Allen Bechstein ran into trouble early as he gave up a three-run home run to Jesse Sawyer , giving the Jackrabbits a quick 3-0 lead. The Gophers remained quiet at the plate until they broke through for six runs in the top of the third inning. The inning was highlighted by a two-run double by Kvasnicka , which was then followed by a two-run home run by O’Shea . The 6-3 lead did not last long as South Dakota State came back in the bottom of the third inning to score two unearned runs off an error by AJ Pettersen . The Jackrabbits then added another run on a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 6-6. The Jackrabbits’ scoring continued into the fourth inning as they crossed a go-ahead run on an RBI double from Joel Blake . Blake then came around to score on a single by John Lee , who then scored on an RBI single by Eric Cain , giving South Dakota State a 9-6 lead. Minnesota got a pair of runs back in the top of the fifth inning as it loaded the bases with no outs and brought home Troy Larson on a wild pitch and Pettersen on a later sacrifice fly. The Gophers regained the lead with two more runs as a Knudson double drove in Larson and Henkemeyer , making the score 10-9. Once again, the Jackrabbits rallied to regain the lead in the bottom of the seventh inning as Billy Stitz hit a two-run double down the left-field line. South Dakota State picked up an insurance run in the eighth inning to go ahead 12-10. Minnesota made things interesting in the top of the ninth inning as Drew Hanish walked and eventually came around to score on an error by JackrabbitsâÄô second baseman Scott Hood . But a groundout by Larson ended the GophersâÄô threat, handing them the one-run loss. âÄúFrom a game like this we try to take the positives and reinforce them and take the negatives and correct them and try to get better,âÄù Anderson said.