Minn. uses late surge to beat Bison

The Gophers scored 10 runs in the final four innings for an 11-6 win in Fargo.

by Aleutian Calabay

The Minnesota baseball team battled to gain exactly the momentum it needed as the Gophers kicked off a six-game road trip Wednesday night at North Dakota State. The Bison grabbed an early lead as they smashed four solo home runs in the first four innings, but the Gophers eventually found their scoring touch as they brought home 10 runs in the last four innings to win 11-6. Although the win does not mean much for the GophersâÄô (17-24, 6-6 Big Ten) postseason hopes from a standings viewpoint, it gives them a mental boost as they move into the most crucial part of the conference schedule. âÄúWeâÄôre trying to get some momentum going here,âÄù Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. âÄúEach time you can have a positive experience, your confidence builds. IâÄôm sensing a lot more swagger on this team.âÄù The Gophers can also be encouraged from the way their bats have been producing as of late. After struggling mightily early in the year to score runs consistently, Minnesota has now averaged 9.6 runs over its past five games. Sophomore Matt Puhl led the way for the Gophers against the Bison as he went 3-for-4 with a career-high five RBIs and a run scored. He also extended his hitting streak to 15 games. Senior Kyle Knudson also had a good night at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored. The Gophers lineup had five different players with multiple hits. âÄúWeâÄôve been struggling with these midweek games the last few weeks,âÄù Puhl said. âÄúBut today we came out with some energy, we were able get some good at-bats, we put the ball in play and good things happened for us.âÄù The Bison got on the board with a small-ball run in the first inning. The Gophers answered back with a run of their own in the third inning as a Nick OâÄôShea double brought home Michael Kvasnicka to tie the game. Then the power surge came alive for North Dakota State as Tim Jallen and Zach Wentz each hit solo home runs in the third inning. The Bison went deep again in the fourth inning with back-to-back home runs from Tanner Adam and Jay Hartman , taking a 5-1 lead. The Gophers finally began to produce timely hits in the sixth inning as Puhl hit a two-RBI single. The comeback effort continued as a Kurt Schlangen single brought in two more runs to tie the game at 5-5. The hits continued to come for Minnesota in the seventh inning as a Knudson single plated AJ Pettersen and another single by Puhl scored Kvasnicka, giving the Gophers a two-run advantage. The Bison got a run back in the bottom of the seventh. But the Gophers bounced right back with four runs in the eighth inning highlighted again by RBI hits by Knudson and Puhl. The insurance runs sealed the game for Minnesota as reliever Tim Ryan came in to close out the Bison for the last two innings. The GophersâÄô road trip now continues with a three-game series this weekend at Iowa. The games get underway at 6:05 p.m. Friday. Games begin at 1:05 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. The Hawkeyes (17-21, 5-7 Big Ten) currently sit second to last in the Big Ten standings, but the Gophers know they will have to continue to win conference games to have a shot at the postseason, as they sit just one game out of first place in the conference. Minnesota will throw its usual weekend starters against Iowa. Junior Seth Rosin (4-3, 3.66 ERA) will get the nod Friday. Rosin is coming off a solid performance last week against Indiana in which he threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up only three hits while striking out seven. The performance earned Rosin his second Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honor this season. Freshman TJ Oakes (2-3, 4.33 ERA) will start Saturday, and Junior Phil Isaksson (3-0, 3.40 ERA) will take the mound Sunday. All three GophersâÄô starters are in the top 12 in the Big Ten in ERA. âÄúWe know we canâÄôt take them [the Hawkeyes] lightly,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúItâÄôs going to be a big series; it always is when Minnesota and Iowa play. Every game and every series is important, so hopefully we get ourselves ready to play.âÄù