Shaky Gophers lose 5-4 to Mankato

Kent Erdahl

The baseball game between Minnesota and Minnesota State-Mankato Wednesday night ended when a Gophers base runner was caught in a rundown. But the Gophers were the ones chasing the Mavericks the rest of the night.

Minnesota lost to Minnesota State-Mankato 5-4 in a game that got off to a shaky start, and featured many untested Gophers pitchers.

The Gophers found themselves in a hole early when Mankato’s Adam Sudbeck tripled to left field. After the play, Minnesota pitcher Jay Gagner thought Sudbeck missed first base, but he overthrew the first baseman during the appeal.

Gagner scored to put Mankato up 1-0.

“That’s the first time I’d ever seen something like that,” centerfielder Sam Steidl said. “But we brushed it off and didn’t let it get our spirits down.”

The Gophers came back in the bottom of the first when Steidl scored on a sacrifice fly by Andy Hunter. But Minnesota couldn’t group runs together or find an answer on the mound.

Minnesota coach John Anderson went through five young hurlers throughout the game. They combined for four earned runs and three wild pitches with runners in scoring position, but Anderson said he has to be patient.

“You can’t get them experience unless you play them,” Anderson said. “And with that you have to take some of the bad.”

Despite the inexperienced pitchers, the Gophers remained in the game. But Minnesota’s offense struggled too.

In the bottom of the third, Hunter had another RBI when he singled in David Hrncirik and the Gophers again tied the game at 2-2. But the Gophers ended the inning with three men left on base.

For the game, Minnesota had 11 hits but left 12 men stranded.

“Basically the game came down to us not getting the job done on offense,” Anderson said.

Minnesota briefly took a 4-3 lead in the fifth, but Mankato responded with a run in each of the next three innings to put the Gophers away.

Minnesota begins the Dairy Queen Classic at 6:35 p.m. Friday at the Metrodome.