Minnesota wins two at Missouri State

The Gophers tallied 35 hits during the series against the Bears with 23 runs.

Gophers infielder Connor Schaefbauer swings at a pitch at Siebert Field on Mar. 31, 2015.

Alex Tuthill-Preus, Daily File Photo

Gophers infielder Connor Schaefbauer swings at a pitch at Siebert Field on Mar. 31, 2015.

by Kaitlin Merkel

The Gophers won both games on Saturday to clinch a series victory against No. 23 Missouri State over the weekend.
Minnesota (12-9) dropped the opener 5-4 on Friday in Springfield, Mo., but won the first Saturday game 12-5 and the second 7-5.
The back-to-back victories were the first time Minnesota has won two consecutive games against a ranked opponent since 2004.
“We’ve always played ranked teams pretty well. … It just seems like we haven’t been able to finish the game and get the win,” senior infielder Connor Schaefbauer said. “To be able to do that this weekend against a very good team and to be able to get both of our wins on a same-day doubleheader is very tough to do.”
The Gophers had a 3-0 lead through three innings on Friday after a triple by Schaefbauer and two doubles from freshman shortstop Terrin Vavra and junior pitcher Matt Fiedler. 
The Bears stormed back to take a one-run lead in the fifth, and after the two teams each put up a run in the sixth, Minnesota was unable to tie the game up again.
The Gophers offense fought back in the first game on Saturday, scoring 12 runs on 15 hits.
Vavra recorded four hits, while Schaefbauer had three. 
Freshman Riley Smith hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the seventh inning. It was the first home run of Smith’s college career, and it put Minnesota up 10-3.
“It’s an indescribable feeling. It was a big point in the game, and it really turned the tide for us,” Smith said. “We got some rallies going, and I just kind of went up there and tried to get a hit, and good things happened.”
Senior pitcher Dalton Sawyer pitched five-and-two-thirds innings in the game, giving up three runs on four hits while tying a career-high with nine strikeouts.
The Gophers kept up the offensive barrage in the second game of the doubleheader, scoring seven runs on 12 hits.
The team put up 35 hits in the series against Missouri State, even though the Bears allowed an average of only 6.85 hits per nine innings.
“Top to bottom of the lineup, we don’t believe that there’s a weak spot,” Schaefbauer said. “So [our mentality is] just going out there and doing what we’re able to do, even when you run into a good staff like Missouri State’s.”
Sophomore third baseman Micah Coffey had two hits and three RBIs in the second game, while redshirt junior outfielder Jordan Smith added two hits and two RBIs.
Minnesota scored four runs in the third inning to take a 6-2 lead and added a final tally in the sixth.
Junior pitcher Toby Anderson started the game and improved to 3-0 on the season after pitching five innings and allowing four earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts.
“It’s hard to win a doubleheader against anybody. It’s the nature of the game. I think we had a very determined bunch,” head coach John Anderson said. “They wanted to win the series after a disappointment in the game on Friday. We didn’t finish it.”