Gophers split doubleheader, lose to Viterbo

by Sarah Mitchell

For the second consecutive night, the Gophers baseball team trailed an a opponent from a lower division with the final at-bat looming. But late-inning heroics could not save 26th-ranked Minnesota’s bid for a perfect pre-Big Ten season.
Unlike Sunday’s 10-8 come-from-behind win over St. Cloud State, the Gophers (2-1) ninth-inning rally fell short Monday, as they lost 7-5 to Viterbo in the nightcap of a doubleheader.
“I’m not discouraged at all,” Gophers coach John Anderson said. “We saw some good things out there. We haven’t committed a defensive error in the last three games. We just didn’t have a big inning. We couldn’t get that one more hit.”
The V-Hawks offense struck early, rocking Gophers starter Vince Gangl for four runs off 10 hits in the first four innings.
Gangl’s predecessors on the mound slowed down Viterbo’s offensive attack — Minnesota relievers allowed just three runs off three hits — but Gophers hitters could not overcome the deficit. Despite a shaky performance from Gangl and the rest of the bullpen, however, Anderson remained optimistic.
“I’m encouraged,” Anderson said. “We don’t have guys like Ben Birk and Danny McGrath and Kelly Werner right now. A lot of the guys who pitched tonight are first-year, experience wise.”
Gophers pitcher Chadd Clarey might lack experience in a Minnesota uniform, but the Des Moines Area Community College transfer looked poised on the mound during the Gophers’ early game against St. Cloud State. Clarey took advantage of his first start with Minnesota, and might have secured a spot in the starting rotation.
Clarey stiffled the Huskies offense, paving the way for a 10-4 Gophers victory. In his three-inning debut, Clarey retired nine of the 10 batters he faced, picking up six strikeouts along the way.
The lone hit came off the bat of rightfielder Tim Boland, a shot that grazed the glove of a leaping Clarey.
“I was kind of nervous because it was my first appearance,” Clarey said.
“I just tried to keep the ball down and throw strikes. If you get behind in the count, you’re forced to throw fastballs.”
With Clarey off the mound, the Gophers offense put up some runs for his predecessor, reliever Brandon Kitzerow. Sophomore Rick Brosseau led off the third inning, doubling to right field. Freshman Jason Kennedy stepped to the plate next, joining Clarey in a night of career firsts.
The Gophers rightfielder smashed his first collegiate career homerun, a dinger over the left field wall. Kennedy’s homer was estimated at 382 feet.
“I was very impressed with Kennedy tonight,” Anderson said. “He’s come along way and we expect him to fill an outfield spot.”
Anderson was also encouraged by Clarey’s performance. He expects the pitcher to become a Gophers regular.
“He hasn’t really been pitching much lately because his arm needed a break,” Anderson said. “We had to build him up.”
Minnesota’s offense rallied for three more innings, but the Huskies played catch-up in the fourth. Kitzerow surrendered four hits and three runs to the St. Cloud State offense.
Anderson said he expects his team to bounce back from the Viterbo setback in time for the road trip to Alabama.
“There are a lot of options on this team,” Anderson said. “They are a fun team to manage and a fun team to watch.”