Rookie hurler shines

by Sarah Mitchell

After throwing his first collegiate pitch nearly three weeks ago in Minnesota’s midweek game against Minnesota State-Mankato, Gophers pitcher Mike Kobow wasn’t expecting more than just appearances against nonconference opponents.
But after three solid midweek outings, the Gophers coaching staff had reason to throw Kobow against a Big Ten foe.
The freshman was recently added to Minnesota’s conference roster and in Sunday’s game one, the situation was right to give Kobow some league experience. In the game’s final inning, Kobow took over for Gophers starter Dan McGrath and secured Minnesota’s 7-0 win.
“I was more nervous over this than any of the other games so far,” Kobow said. “I went down to the bullpen and warmed up. But the way McGrath was throwing, I thought he would stay in the whole time.”
Working in relief, Kobow maintained his consistency. The 6-foot-4 right-hander faced four Wildcats and hurled three first-pitch strikes.
Kobow’s first Big Ten opponent, Northwestern’s J.J. Standring, reached base on an error by shortstop Rick Brosseau. Kobow retired the next hitter himself, striking out Tim DaRosa looking.
Shortstop Jeremy Kurella lined out to center for the inning’s second out, and Kobow ended the game with his second Big Ten strikeout. Like DaRosa, pinch hitter Todd Morgan was caught looking.
“He had good four outings in a row. It was good to see how he’d handle a different environment, a Big Ten environment,” Gophers coach John Anderson said. “He just needs experience now.”
Kobow threw for the first time in the team’s April 21 home game against Minnesota State. The freshman started and worked four innings, allowing four hits and no runs while striking out three and walking one.
Since then Kobow has been used as a starter against other nonconference opponents. Up until Sunday, Kobow had thrown 11 innings, allowing nine hits and three runs, while striking out 11 and walking just five. The right-hander brought a 2.45 ERA to the mound in his debut Big Ten appearance and was not shocked to walk away unscathed.
“It’s basically the same thing. No matter who you’re facing, whether it’s St. Thomas, Mankato, Northwestern or some other Big Ten team, you just do your job,” Kobow said. “Go out there, keep the ball down and try to put some kind of movement on it.”
With his recent success, Kobow has muddied the Gophers’ prospective Big Ten tournament roster. Each team is allowed 25 players, and Kobow could be one of them.
“You take those that can help you win and it’s not going to be easy to chose, especially to with our pitching staff,” Anderson said. “It was nice to see Kobow do well.”