The Minnesota baseball team might not have the best record heading into the Big Ten Tournament, but it does have momentum on its side after a weekend sweep of Indiana at home.
The Gophers (31-24, 17-14 Big Ten) were able to cap off a sweep Sunday with a 6-4 win against Indiana (22-34, 11-21). Minnesota won a pair of games Saturday, 3-1 and 5-1. The team also won Friday, 6-1.
With the sweep, the Gophers went into today’s Big Ten Tournament with their longest winning streak of the season – seven games.
“I think we have a lot of momentum going into the tournament right now,” freshman third baseman Nate Hanson said. “So it will be interesting to see if we can keep that going.”
Hanson was a big part of the team’s recent success. He came back from a wrist injury he suffered May 16 in a game against Augsburg College.
During the weekend series against the Hoosiers, Hanson hit .455 to lead the team.
“It doesn’t hurt to get Nate Hanson back,” coach John Anderson said.
Yet Hanson said he was nervous during his first at-bat in the series after missing 36 games this season.
“It was my first appearance against live pitching and my first Big Ten game,” he said.
However, Hanson wasn’t the only one hitting well at the plate. For the most part, everyone had a solid weekend hitting the ball against Indiana.
“Hitting is contagious,” Anderson said, “and I think we have a little bit of that going for our team right now.”
Strong plate appearances this weekend might have been what helped Minnesota to its first Big Ten series sweep of the season.
Luke MacLean, who was one of six seniors recognized after Sunday’s game, was also a contributor at the plate.
MacLean hit .429 for the weekend and batted in two runs.
“I knew the whole weekend that these were going to be my last games here, and I was just trying to enjoy them as much as I can,” MacLean said. “I know it’s going to be gone soon.”
Big Ten tourney set
The Big Ten Tournament begins at 11 a.m. today, at Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Fourth-seeded Minnesota will try to continue its recent tournament success against fifth-seeded Illinois (29-27, 15-17 Big Ten).
However, during the regular season, the Gophers lost three of four games against the Illini.
But momentum might be on the Gophers’ side this time around.
“The whole season doesn’t matter,” MacLean said. “It’s a new season right now, and having five, six wins in a row really helps a lot.”
One thing Anderson said would help is if senior first baseman Andy Hunter can get back from a bruised right eye.
“Progress is good so far. Swelling is down,” he said. “It’s just a question of if the swelling gets out of there.”