Gophers push way past Bison 5-1

A pair of pleasant surprises spurred Minnesota past North Dakota State.

by Matt Perkins

Every season, something pleasantly surprises Minnesota’s baseball team and coach John Anderson.

Tuesday night featured excellent performances from two of this year’s candidates.

Sophomore Taylor VanderAarde and senior Tim Theis helped the Gophers get back on a winning track with a 5-1 win over North Dakota State at Siebert Field.

Theis got his first win of the season in his first start of the season, going three innings and giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out two.

“Theis has worked his tail off for this program,” Anderson said. “He never complains, just gets himself ready to pitch and gets the job done.”

Theis started off the game strong, sitting the Bison down 1-2-3 in the first inning.

His offense rewarded the quick work by quickly putting two runs on the board in the bottom of the inning.

Andy Hunter hit a two-out double to left-center field that scored Mike Mee and Jake Elder, giving their starter an early 2-0 lead – something Gophers pitchers haven’t had much of this season.

The pitching duel then kicked in, with Theis pitching another two scoreless innings and Bison starter Brandon Goltz pitching his next four scoreless.

North Dakota State got on the board in the fifth off of Gary Perinar with a two-out single to right by Tim Erickson which scored Charles Magedenz.

The Bison wouldn’t get to Gophers pitching after that. Bill Johnson and Jon Mueller came on to finish the last four scoreless innings for the Gophers.

Gophers pitchers gained some confidence from an errorless performance by the defense, which is something they didn’t get during the weekend.

“We put a zero up in the error spot,” center fielder Tony Leseman said. “Obviously, that’s something we didn’t see against Purdue.”

The Gophers committed nine errors in a four-game series sweep at the hands of Purdue, losing their first Big Ten series since Apr. 20, 2002.

“I mean, it couldn’t have gotten a lot worse,” Hunter said. “We had a rough go against Purdue, but we turned things around here and gave ourselves something to work with.”

VanderAarde continued his hot hitting, going 2-for-2 with his 11th stolen base of the season. He has yet to be caught stealing.

“He has been a pleasant surprise,” Anderson said. “I say it every year: Someone always steps up and makes the plays when they get the chance, and Taylor has done just that.”

But more importantly than VanderAarde or Theis’ individual performances was the simple fact that the Gophers were able to get a win and some confidence heading into this weekend’s series at Iowa.

“It’s important to set the tone for the game,” Leseman said. “We got a win, and it’s what we needed. Now we can go from there and just worry about the next game on Friday.”