Gophers pitch one-hitter at Dome

After a 10-day layoff due to bad weather, Minnesota finally took the field again, downing Northern Iowa.

Paul Cordes

Hot dogs and Coke were replaced by coffee and doughnuts Wednesday morning at the Metrodome as the Minnesota baseball team finally got an opportunity to play after 11 days without a game.

Bad weather seems to be following the Gophers, but luckily Minnesota was able to find some refuge and picked up a 7-1 win against Northern Iowa.

The game, which was originally supposed to be played in Cedar Falls, Iowa, but was moved inside to avoid impending bad weather, broke the longest stretch without a game since 1994 when Minnesota had a break from March 6 through 20.

Coach John Anderson said it was imperative to find a way to get in a game.

“Baseball is a game that is supposed to be played often,” Anderson said. “You have to repeat the fundamentals as often as you can, and I think that’s why it was critical that we play and did everything that we could to get back on the field.”

And the Gophers didn’t need much time to get back to work at the plate.

Minnesota managed to plate seven runs on 10 hits to put the Panthers in a bind early. After a two-run first inning, the Gophers didn’t even take a second to look back.

Senior catcher Kevin Carlson made the most of his two at-bats as he went two-for-two on the day with a solo shot in the sixth – his first home run of the year.

Carlson said it was a matter of coming out and doing the little things right.

“We’re a talented team and we’re especially a very fundamentally sound team, and that’s something coaches stress to us,” Carlson said. “When you take a lot of time off you have to stick to fundamentals when you come back. With our fundamentals, our talent and some leadership, we got it done.”

And Minnesota’s offense gave a little leeway to the Gophers’ pitching staff as the staff looked a little rusty.

Despite seven guys combining for the one-hitter, Minnesota pitchers had their fair share of difficulties.

The staff gave up nine free rides to Northern Iowa, including eight walks and a hit-batsman.

Anderson didn’t put all the blame for the difficulties on the break, but admitted it could certainly have been a factor.

“I sensed a little bit of our rhythm thrown off on the mound. We generally don’t walk as many guys as we did, and I think some of that could be contributed to the time off,” he said.

“Pitching is a technical and repetitive skill, and I’m hoping that getting out here (Wednesday) will help us get back into a rhythm because it’s not that often that you can walk five lead off guys and get away with it.”

Along with those seven pitchers, 14 different players saw an appearance at the plate, giving many Gophers some much-needed playing time.

With the rest of the Big Ten schedule awaiting it, senior left fielder Mike Mee said he felt like Minnesota picked up right where they started at the beginning of the season and regained some of the momentum the Gophers had accrued before the time off.

“I think (Wednesday) we stayed with our approach and tried to see the ball deep and go the other way with it,” he said of Minnesota’s success at the plate.

“It’s a little tough when you have a lot of days without some game action, but we overcame quite a bit of adversity over the past couple of weeks, and I think things worked out well for us.”