DeVore hits his first homer in Gophers win

by Todd Zolecki

All season long Mark DeVore and Mike Arlt, two of the Gophers baseball team’s smaller players, jawed back and forth about who might hit the first home run in their young collegiate careers. DeVore had yet to go deep in 81 at-bats. Arlt hadn’t hit one in 33 at-bats.
Thursday night at Siebert Field, the contest between the two ended. DeVore, against Arlt at least, is the official home run king. His two-run shot in the fourth inning tied the game 6-6 before Minnesota pulled ahead to beat St. John’s 11-7.
The redshirt freshman shortstop smacked his homer, which some might argue had help from the wind, over the left-center field fence. The hit left Arlt admittedly a little bitter about the “friendly competition.”
But Arlt didn’t sit and pout after the game. The two are roommates and good friends.
“We both have a competitive fire,” DeVore said. “We always wanted to do better than the other guy. I think it helps push us to play well.”
The bet began at the beginning of the season, but the competitive juices between the two started in high school. Arlt played at Lakeville High School. DeVore spent his high school career at Bloomington Jefferson. The two schools are in the same conference.
Teammates point out it’s a big deal when one of them hits a homer during batting practice. So it came to no surprise when several players jumped on Arlt’s back when DeVore hit the homer.
“It’s funny,” designated hitter Phil McDermott said. “They’re both really hard-working guys. Both of them know they have to hit the ball on the ground. They know their roles on the team: playing defense and contributing at the plate. But you don’t expect that from your nine-hole shortstop.”
Either does Gophers coach John Anderson. He just hopes DeVore keeps his mind on his defense and not on beating left fielder Robb Quinlan in a home run derby. Quinlan leads the team with 13 home runs.
Still, Anderson didn’t seem all too surprised his shortstop hit one out.
“The wind was out in the right direction,” he said. “If it was going to happen it was going to happen (Thursday.”
Not to be outdone, third baseman Matt Scanlon hit his first home run, a three-run shot, of his collegiate career in the sixth inning.