Mavericks’ five-run inning drops U

by Tim Klobuchar

When a team hits as poorly as Mankato State did early in Wednesday night’s game at Siebert Field, someone usually questions whether it left its bats at home. In this case, it did.
The Mavericks actually forgot to bring their aluminum with them to Minneapolis, and for the first five innings, hit like it. Mankato State got by with just three bats that belonged to Mavericks players.
Gophers freshman lefty Ben Birk had quite a bit to do with Mankato State’s struggles, striking out nine and allowing just three hits in the first five innings, keeping Minnesota in front 3-1.
But Mankato State busted out for five runs in the sixth and went on to a 7-5 victory, its third in four years over the Gophers.
“We would’ve forgot the helmets, too, if it wasn’t for me,” Mankato State coach Dean Bowyer said. “It just shows you only need three bats to win.”
Minnesota fell back below .500 to 22-23, while Division II Mankato State improved to 24-12.
Birk gave up only a solo home run to Bryan Zollman and two singles through five innings. But the Mavericks finally got to him in the sixth. Steve Schmitz tied the game on a two-run single, and catcher Kurt Moelter gave Mankato State a 6-3 lead on a three-run homer to left center.
The Gophers struck for two runs in the bottom half of the sixth on a two-run single by freshman shortstop Mark Devore, cutting the deficit to 6-5. Mankato State added an unearned run in the eighth for insurance.
Minnesota managed just eight hits off three Mavericks pitchers, including one in the 3 2/3 innings that Jason Heimerl pitched.
“They had some good pitchers. They’re not St. Cloud,” said Gophers senior Phil McDermott, referring to Minnesota’s 19-6 rout over the Division II Huskies on Tuesday night.
It wasn’t the way the Gophers wanted to head into this weekend’s crucial series with Iowa. Minnesota, in fifth place in the Big Ten with two series left, needs to climb to fourth to make the Big Ten tournament.
“This is over,” McDermott said. “It’s embarrassing, and I’m pissed about it. But we have to put it behind us.”
Note: Sophomore Robb Quinlan set the Gophers record for doubles in a season. He lined his 25th of the year to the gap in right center in the first inning. Quinlan also has an 11-game hitting streak
The old doubles mark was held by John Kopfer, Brent Gates and Mark Merila.

MSU 010 005 010 — 7 8 2
Gophers 030 002 000 — 5 8 1
MSU — Bohnsack, Mayer (4), Heimerl (6) and Moelter; Gophers — Birk, Pautz (6), Zrust (8) and Guse. W — Mayer, 3-1. L — Pautz, 0-3. Sv — Heimerl (1). HRs — MSU, Zollman (4), Moelter (4). T — 2:40. A — 137.