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Minn. splits atypical Monday double-header

Mondays usually are reserved for class and homework, which was not the case yesterday.

Jeff DeSmidt had class at 9 a.m. Monday.

Because NCAA rules prohibit baseball teams from practicing after a weekend series, most baseball players schedule a heavy class load on Mondays.

But DeSmidt and his teammates instead spent the day at Rocky Miller Park in Evanston, Ill., where the Gophers split another doubleheader with Northwestern.

“Monday’s usually a day when you get in the weight room, go to class and get your homework done,” DeSmidt said. “We’re kind of feeling that. There’s about eight computers open on the bus with guys doing homework and e-mailing professors and stuff.”

The two teams were forced to play doubleheaders Sunday and Monday after the first three games of the series were canceled. The Gophers were stuck at the airport until 11 p.m. Thursday night after their flight was canceled, and didn’t fly out of Minneapolis until around 8 p.m. Friday.

It rained all day Saturday in Evanston, which meant two more canceled games and more waiting around to play for the Gophers.

“You get to eat a lot of Burger King and play a lot of cards. It gets to be a real long day,” DeSmidt said.

When the teams finally did get to play, the temperature hovered in the 40s with strong winds and the team had to wait inside their bus in between games.

“It’s tough on everybody,” head coach John Anderson said. “When you play four of your 52 games in about 30 hours, in cold and rainy weather, I’m not sure how much good that does for a team.”

The Gophers lost Monday’s first game – which was only scheduled for seven innings – 6-5 on a sixth-inning, two-run homerun from Northwestern shortstop Tommy Finn.

Freshman Seth Rosin, who came into the game with the best ERA among Minnesota starters, gave up four runs in just four innings of work during the game, further stressing a bullpen that was pushed to its limits.

That set the stage for Dustin Brabender to save the day. The senior pitched a nine-inning complete game in the second game, which the Gophers won 9-3.

“That was awesome,” DeSmidt said. “We’ll be that much deeper going into our games this week. It shows that he’s got some grit and dedication out there, and it’ll help later in the week.”

Brabender gave up a lot of hits in the game – 10 – but kept eight of them to singles and didn’t walk anyone.

“That’s how I pitch,” Brabender said. “I try to be a groundball pitcher. Sometimes they’re going to find the hole, but if they’re not going off the wall or over the fence, we can stay in the game.”

Centerfielder Matt Nohelty continued his hot hitting, going 6-for-10 with two RBIs and two stolen bases in the two games. The junior improved his batting average to .429 on the season, third in the Big Ten and first among leadoff hitters.

“He’s one of the best hitters in the Big Ten, no doubt about it,” Anderson said.

Per NCAA rules, the Gophers will get today off before boarding a bus bright and early Wednesday morning to play Northern Iowa in Waterloo.

“It’s tough, but that’s the nature of baseball. It’s a grind,” DeSmidt said. “You just have to embrace it, I guess.”

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