Gophers overcome Friday meltdown

Minnesota won two of three at Iowa after a rough start.

by Samuel Gordon

Blowing a five-run lead in the eighth inning is a demoralizing way to lose a baseball game for most teams.

Not the Gophers.

Minnesota shrugged off Friday’s 10-inning 10-9 loss and cruised past Iowa on Saturday and Sunday in Iowa City, Iowa.

The Gophers (9-3 in the conference) sit atop the Big Ten with three more conference series to play.

“A lot of teams would have never recovered from what happened on Friday,” head coach John Anderson said. “It was only one game. We didn’t let it turn into two, three or four. I was proud of the way they responded.”

The Gophers took a 9-4 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning Friday with junior ace Tom Windle on the mound.

Windle issued a pair of one-out walks, and Anderson summoned reliable senior closer Billy Soule to end the jam.

But Soule walked the bases loaded, and Hawkeyes right fielder Kris Goodman sent Soule’s 2-2 offering over the left-center field fence.

Iowa tied the game in the ninth and won it in the bottom of the 10th when Gophers sophomore Ty McDevitt hit a Hawkeyes batter with the bases loaded.

“It became a matter of ‘Let’s get this game over with, and let’s get on to the next one,’” senior right fielder Kurt Schlangen said. “We didn’t put them away.”

Anderson and his team regrouped after Friday’s game, and the Gophers buried the Hawkeyes early Saturday.

Minnesota scored seven runs in the third inning and rode junior right-hander Alec Crawford to victory.

Junior catcher Matt Halloran went 2-for-5 with four RBIs. Senior third baseman Ryan Abrahamson went 4-for-5 with an RBI. Schlangen was 3-for-4 and scored a pair of runs.

Crawford allowed two runs in seven innings, and Minnesota coasted to an easy 10-2 victory.

“We do a good job of turning the page quickly,” Halloran said. “We have all year.”

Sunday’s game followed a similar script. Minnesota held a 6-1 lead after five innings and scored three more runs in the seventh en route to a 9-5 victory.

Schlangen went 3-for-5 with two RBIs. Redshirt sophomore shortstop Michael Handel was 3-for-4 with an RBI. Halloran was 2-for-5 with an RBI.

The Gophers had 14 hits Friday and 15 hits in both Saturday and Sunday’s games.

The weekend was easily the Gophers’ best offensive performance of the season. Schlangen said it was the best offensive output in a series since his freshman year.

Minnesota’s scheduled series against Michigan State last weekend was canceled, and the Gophers spent the weekend at practice focusing on hitting.

Anderson said those practices had something to do with the improvements.

“We had good at-bats up and down the lineup,” he said.