Gophers baseball drops Game 2 to NW

Derek Wetmore

While it took the team some time for the offense to thaw during a chilly Friday game, the Gophers baseball team apparently forgot it in the deep freezer overnight and never got anything cooking Saturday.

Minnesota (3-5 Big Ten) scored only one run – in the first inning – en route to a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Northwestern. Phil Isaksson (1-4) was the hard-luck loser after pitching 7 1/3 solid innings.

Isaksson left in the eighth inning of a 1-1 game with a runner on second, one out, and the heart of the Wildcats’ offense coming to the plate. He gave way to closer Scott Matyas, who had been close to perfect in the last calendar year.

Matyas got rocked around the yard and allowed the inherited runner to score, as well as two of his own by giving up two singles and a double before calming down and recording the final two outs of the inning.

“Statistics tell you that eventually he’s going to give up a couple runs,” head coach John Anderson said. “Scott’s not going to be perfect.”

Even though Matyas surrendered three runs and tagged Isaksson with the loss for allowing the inherited runner to score, Isaksson was quick to defend the man who has been arguably the Gophers most consistent performer this year.

“Matyas has won a ton of games for us,” Isaksson said. “He’s the man, he’s our closer and I’d gladly give the ball to him.”

“I just try to keep the game within our reach. The bats will come around,” Isaksson added.

 The Gophers stranded eight runners on the day including two in the first with runners on second and third with one out.

“We had a chance in the first inning to put up a crooked number and we only scored one. We left of a lot of guys on base and couldn’t get the big hit, couldn’t get the timely hit. They eventually did,” Anderson said.

He added: “We just haven’t been able to be consistent on offense at all. We haven’t been able to put together consecutive good days.”

Saturday’s game was played in a brisk two hours and 13 minutes, with both pitchers working quickly and defenses on display. Matt Puhl opened the game with two nice plays at second base for put-outs, and left fielder Andy Henkemeyer made a diving catch to his right in the second inning.

Anderson said he’d like to bring Northwestern’s defense in to play more because he doesn’t feel that is their strong suit, but thus far the Gophers have hit too many fly balls and racked up too many strikeouts.

“We only scored one run. That’s not going to give you a chance to win,” Anderson said. “I don’t think we’ve done a very good job of putting the ball in play on the ground.”