U sweeps past Oregon State

by Sarah Mitchell

An impressive three-game homestand over the weekend isn’t the only momentum leading the Gophers baseball team into Friday’s Big Ten season opener.
Minnesota (17-6) looks almost unbeatable right now. A weekend sweep of Oregon State pushed the team’s win streak to 10 games.
“We’re just rolling right now,” said Gophers center fielder Mike Arlt. “I think we’re all anticipating the Big Ten season.”
The Gophers never trailed the Beavers (10-12) in their final nonconference series, picking up a 16-9 victory behind the arm of starter Brad Pautz (3-1) on Saturday and a 11-6 win, thrown by junior Kelly Werner (3-0), on Friday.
On Sunday, junior Dan McGrath took his turn on the mound, but the southpaw’s appearance ended early. With two down in the third he stopped Corrie Willkie’s line drive with his right foot and then hobbled back to the dugout.
Heading into Sunday’s appearance, McGrath had only 6.2 innings of work behind him. One of several Gophers pitchers suffering from an arm injury, McGrath first pitched in mid-March.
“We still can’t seem to get continuity,” said Gophers coach John Anderson of the pitching staffs’ injury problems. “Danny will be all right, though.”
McGrath left reliever Jason Shupe with a slim one-run cushion. But the Gophers offense gave the right-hander more room for error in the bottom of the fourth inning, batting around the order and tallying nine runs.
Singles from designated hitter Aron Amundson, shortstop Rick Brosseau, right fielder Jason Kennedy and a double from all-time Gophers hits leader (with 276 and counting) Robb Quinlan fueled Minnesota’s offensive surge.
“I think we’ve used the time to make ourselves better, especially offensively. I think we have improved,” Anderson said. “We are a better team now.”
In the sixth, with junior college transfer Chadd Clarey on the mound for the Gophers, Oregon State began to chomp away at its 10-run deficit.
Pinch hitter K.C. Rumrey led off with a double to left field and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Clarey retired the next Beavers batter, striking out Tony Schader looking, but put another runner on base when he drilled catcher Bryan Ingram with a pitch.
Once on base, Ingram stole second and advanced to third on an RBI single from first baseman Joe Gerger. The Beavers collected two more runs off Clarey when center fielder Eric Stark tripled to right field.
“We’re still working with Clarey,” Anderson said. “Just trying to get him set on the mound.”
After the sixth, run production from both teams slowed down. The Gophers added one more in the seventh off a throwing error from Carter, while Oregon State picked up a run in each of the last two innings.
Based on an 11-6 win on Sunday and a four-game sweep of Bowling Green over the break, Anderson said he feels at ease with the conference opener approaching.
Minnesota begins league action on the road, with a four-game series at Purdue this weekend.
“I think the guys worked real hard over break. It would have been easy for them to get distracted,” Anderson said. “I am happy with where we are now.”