U edges Cyclones in bottom of ninth

by Tim Klobuchar

The Gophers baseball team temporarily solved its first-inning woes Wednesday night against Iowa State, but still needed some late-inning heroics to beat the Cyclones 6-5 at the Metrodome.
Senior Bob Keeney tripled in Robb Quinlan with no outs in the bottom of the ninth to give Minnesota the win in a game it led 5-0 at one point.
Quinlan led off with a single to center, and on a 1-0 pitch, Keeney ripped a slider from Jake Whitney to the wall in left-center field.
“When I made outs early in the game, I was anxious and I was flying open,” Keeney said. “This time I was concentrating on staying back, and I got a pitch to hit and he hung it.”
Keeney’s hit made it easier for the Gophers to erase the memories of a Cyclones comeback. Iowa State scored three runs in the sixth and two in the seventh to tie the game at five.
The last three runs were charged to Ted Zrust, who pitched the last four innings and got the win to improve to 2-0 on the season. In his first outing of the year on Friday, Zrust pitched five and two-thirds shutout innings.
Still, Gophers coach John Anderson thought Iowa State’s comeback had as much to do with the Dome as it did with Zrust’s pitching.
“I thought Adam (Williams, Minnesota’s starting pitcher) and Ted both competed well out there,” Anderson said. “They had some turf hits in the middle innings, and that’s just part of the game.”
Besides getting the victory, the Gophers also finally altered what had become a tiresome theme: a poor first inning. In their first 10 games this year, the Gophers had been outscored by opponents 14-1 in the first inning. On Wednesday, though, after shutting down Iowa State in the top of the first, Minnesota scored three in the bottom half.
The inning did have a familiar start to it, as the first two batters grounded out. But the Gophers strung together four straight hits, starting with a Bryan Guse single. Guse started running on an 0-2 pitch to Ben Griffin, who lined a double to right center to put Minnesota on the board.
Phil McDermott then fisted a bloop single into right to score Griffin for a 2-0 lead. The Gophers hit and ran again with Eric Welter batting, and McDermott scored when Welter’s flare to right landed just inside the foul line for a double.
Keeney singled in Troy Stein in the second to bump the lead to 4-0, and Minnesota made it 5-0 in the fifth on an RBI infield single by Welter. After struggling against tough competition at the beginning of the season, the Gophers looked like they were more than ready for the start of a soft 10-game stretch, in which they will play teams like Northern Illinois, Chicago State and Northern Iowa.
But the Cyclones comeback forced the Gophers to take them a little more seriously, and maybe the next few teams as well.
“When you get up early like that, you want to bury them,” Keeney said. “It’s one of those things where if you don’t put them away, they can reverse it on you.”
Still, after eight losses in their first 10 games, Anderson isn’t going to complain much. In fact, the thin margin by which his team won might help during the Big Ten season, when close games will be much more common.
“It was important because we needed a victory,” Anderson said. “But winning in that fashion is still better than a laugher. We got to use a lot of players, which is something we plan to do the rest of the year.”

Iowa State 000 003 200 — 5 11 3
Gophers 310 010 001 — 6 10 0
Teut, Hilton (3), Prehn (7), Whitney (8) and Senjem; Williams, Zrust (6) and Guse. W — Zrust, 2-0. L — Whitney, 0-1. Hrs — none. T — 2:30. A — 575.