Minnesota comes from behind once again

The Gophers scored eight runs in the fifth inning and never looked back.

Paul Cordes

The South Dakota State baseball team left Siebert Field last week with a ringing in its ears from Minnesota’s hitters who pounded out nine hits – four of them home runs – in the Gophers 7-6 win.

The Jackrabbits returned to Minneapolis last night and silenced those bats for four and two-thirds innings, but Minnesota couldn’t be muted for long and used an eight-run fifth inning to get the 9-4 win.

The Jackrabbits (20-15 overall) should have been out of the fifth after just three batters, but an error by South Dakota State third baseman Cal Lewis allowed 12 batters to come to the plate as the Gophers (27-7, 9-2 Big Ten) hammered out seven straight hits, all coming with two outs.

Sophomore first baseman Bryan Jost reached on the error and eventually scored the first run of the game during his 3-for-4 night which included a double and a pair of RBIs.

“It’s huge to make teams pay for things like that,” said Jost, referring to the error. “If teams give you extra outs, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”

But the seven straight hits didn’t come easy for Minnesota.

Two of the Gophers’ hits came on infield singles by sophomore center fielder Matt Nohelty and senior left fielder Mike Mee who dove into first base, keeping the inning alive and scoring Nohelty from third.

Mee said it’s impossible to get line drive hits every time at the plate, but a hit is a hit.

“It’s very important to get those hustle plays,” Mee said. “You might not hit the ball hard every time, but you just have to keep your head up. We do try to pride ourselves in hustling every play and it really worked out for us that inning.”

And the quick shift in momentum at the plate carried over onto the mound for Minnesota.

The first four innings of the game were shaky ones for Gophers hurlers, who gave up seven hits and four runs, including a two-run home run by Jackrabbits leadoff hitter Jake Rogers.

With South Dakota State being able to start one of its most experienced pitchers, while the Gophers didn’t have that luxury, is just one more reason Anderson is ready to do away with the four-game Big Ten weekends.

“They played a three game series (over the weekend), we played a four and they were able to start a guy with more experience than we did,” he said. “That’s why I don’t like the four-games series – because when you’re trying to play Division I teams midweek, they’re a pitcher ahead of you.”

Regardless, junior right-hander Aaron Larson came out in the top of the sixth inning and put up a zero for Minnesota, keeping the momentum with the Gophers.

Anderson said it was a key part to Wednesday’s win.

“Larson, after the long inning went out there and got a 1-2-3 inning for us which was huge,” Anderson said. “He sat here for a long time and I thought his inning after our big inning was a huge part of the ball game.”

Larson got some help, though, from his defense, including a big play from Mee in left field as he tracked down a foul ball in the corner and made the catch on the run.

“I read it off the bat and it was kind of a tough sky because the sun was setting, but I just picked out a place where I though it was going to land and luckily I caught it.” Mee said.

“We played errorless baseball again tonight and anytime you can have quality pitching, some great defense and timely hitting, we’re going to come out on top.”