Relief pitchers shine as Gophers beat St. John’s

Sarah Mitchell

Wins for the Gophers baseball team have become commonplace this year, but seeing the names Frank Wagner, Bob DeWitt and Brandon Kitzerow connected to a victory had been a rarity until Tuesday.
Because Minnesota’s starters generally have been logging heavy innings on the weekends, the bullpen, including Wagner, DeWitt and Kitzerow has been sparsely used.
But those unknown relievers pitched the Gophers (23-6 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) to an 8-5 victory over St. John’s at Siebert Field on Tuesday. Wagner, who is a weekend reliever, took the mound as a starter and pitched four scoreless innings to improve to 3-1.
Head coach John Anderson said the trio is still developing and comprise the team’s second tier of pitchers.
“They aren’t ready to go out there and be your one through five guys. So, you are trying to get them some work in mid-week games,” Anderson said.
Jason Dobis, who has been starting Friday games in the absence of number one pitcher Ben Birk, played the reliever role in Tuesday’s game.
Dobis pitched the final two innings and allowed three hits and one earned run. He wasn’t particularly sharp, but Anderson said that is to be expected.
“Jason probably won’t throw as hard as he will on a weekend because he is in between starts and still recovering some, too,” Anderson said.
Josh Holthaus, who knocked in the winning run Sunday against Iowa, swung a timely bat again. Holthaus hit a two-run homer, his first career long ball, in the seventh inning to secure a Minnesota victory.
“I am excited that I finally got that one,” Holthaus said.
Holthaus’ teammates were equally as relieved. After the game freshman Rick Brosseau, who contributed to the Gophers’ nine hits with a home run of his own, took the credit for Holthaus’ home run.
“It’s cause I am always giving him some crap everyday about it because I am a shortstop and we are not known for our home run hitting,” Brosseau said.
While the final result was a Minnesota victory, the team at times appeared to be too relaxed, especially in committing two errors in the field. Anderson described the teams’ effort as “lackadaisical.”
“They are going to argue the weather and the conditions, but those are excuses,” Anderson said. “We aren’t looking for excuses. You have got to be able to deal with those things.”
Third baseman Matt Scanlon agreed with his coach, saying he felt the team was not ready to play. Minnesota will have a similar home game today against Concordia of St. Paul.
“We weren’t real worried about the game (against St. John’s). There are going to be close games like that,” Scanlon said. “Teams like that come in ready to play. They want to beat you real bad and sometimes we don’t have the right attitude going. I think that’s what happened today.”