Arlt shows power, hits two bombs

Sarah Mitchell

Mike Arlt doesn’t have the powerhitter physique. Standing less than six feet tall, Minnesota’s speedy center fielder is known more for his ability to get on base with bunts and infield hits.
As the Gophers began the home portion of their Big Ten season over the weekend, Arlt started a reputation as the hitter swinging the big bat amid Michigan’s pitching staff. The junior recorded his second and third career home runs.
“That’s kind of crazy, huh?” Gophers pitcher Chadd Clarey said.
Arlt picked up his second career home run on Friday. J.J. Putz was on the mound for the Wolverines and until Arlt’s game-tying solo shot in the bottom of the sixth, the Gophers failed to drive the ball against the Wolverine’s right-hander.
“We’d been struggling up to that point,” Arlt said. “I did it with two strikes and two outs. It was big at the time.”
Putz (2-3) gained control after that and pitched his second complete game win of the season. Minnesota scraped together only eight hits and lost 8-3.
Sunday provided a different outcome for the Gophers, who salvaged a series split.
Arlt recorded his third career home run in the game. This time the ball left Siebert Field in the bottom of the second inning. The one-run dinger off Wolverines starter Luke Bonner gave the Gophers a 2-1 lead.
“I thought it was hit well, but I was scared it might not make it out because it was low,” Arlt said. “But it did, and I was happy going around (the bases).”
Selectiveness at the plate transformed Arlt into a powerhitter over the weekend. The Lakeville, Minn., native worked the count to his favor, forcing Putz and Bonner to pitch inside.
“They made a few mistakes and left the ball thigh-high and on the inner part of the plate,” Arlt said. “And I turned on those. Those are my favorite pitches to hit.”
Arlt’s first career home run came on Nov. 14, as the team faced a non-conference opponent. The Gophers earned a 10th inning, 6-5 win over Northern Iowa, and Arlt hit his first dinger in 358 trips to the plate.
As a bottom-of-the-lineup hitter, the center fielder has become a regular in the base paths. Arlt went 4-for-16 against Michigan.
“He’s seeing the ball well and we need him to continue doing that,” Gophers assistant coach Lee Swenson said. “He’s a switch hitter, and we need his bat in the lineup.”
While Arlt tripled his home run count in one series, Minnesota isn’t counting on the junior to knock the ball out of the park often. But after this weekend, they’re not counting him out, either.
“You never know,” Swenson said.