Gophers to open season with three-game series in Tallahassee against No. 9 Florida State

Robert Mews

A disadvantage has been handed to the Minnesota baseball team for this weekend.

The team plays its first series of the season at ninth-ranked Florida State (7-1) today, Saturday and Sunday for a three-game set.

The Seminoles don’t lose much at home ‘ 88 percent of games at home are wins ‘ and they already have played eight games this season.

That might seem like a tough battle for the early part of a season when coaches are looking for an identity, but coach John Anderson said the team will just play its game this weekend.

“We’re not going to play differently because it’s Florida State,” Anderson said. “We’re going to be a team that’s going to steal; we’re going to put runners in motion.”

It might be to the Gophers’ advantage that the Seminoles have picked off only two runners this year.

Bryan Henry, who will start Friday for Florida State, has both of the pickoffs.

“We’re going to have to get after it,” Anderson said. “Hopefully we get some guys on base and get some counts and situations where we can get some guys started here because I think it’s going to be an important part of our offense.”

But, getting after it on the base paths this weekend won’t work too well without some hits. That might be difficult for the Gophers because, as Anderson said, Florida State has great pitching.

“They build their team around that ballpark and they always have great pitching,” Anderson said. “Great arms on the mound, and they do enough things on offense in terms of execution to score enough runs to win. So, they’re not going to give you any games.”

For one thing, Henry has struck out 20 batters in just 18.2 innings of work this season and has a 1.45 earned run average.

The Gophers will send left-handed pitcher Brian Bull to the mound to face Henry.

Bull had a tough outing in two innings of work in the Pro-Alumni game Feb. 4. He faced nine hitters and giving up three unearned runs.

On Saturday, the Gophers will send righty Cole DeVries to the mound to face another Seminoles righty in Michael Hyde.

DeVries started 13 games last season and posted the second most strikeouts on the team with 57.

“They’re defiantly going to be ahead of us,” DeVries said. “So, we have to step up our game.”

Those right-handed pitchers may be an advantage to Minnesota’s lineup.

Senior first baseman Andy Hunter and three other starters in the lineup are left-handed hitters.

As for Sunday’s pitching match up, the Gophers will send right-hander Dustin Brabender to the mound to face left-hander Barrett Browning.

“To be honest with you, we’re just going to do our own thing. It may sound cliché, but there’s only so much we can do,” Hunter said. “We’re going to go down there and just see what happens. If we can grab a couple of wins, that would be a great weekend for us.”