Busy week showing no signs of letting up for Minn.

The Gophers are following a Monday doubleheader with a midweek game today.

Trevor Born

Midweek games are usually tough on college baseball players.

If there is an away series over the weekend, they typically fly back home late Sunday night, with early class in the morning. Mondays are big class days because NCAA rules mandate that players be given the day after a series off.

“Monday’s usually a day when you get in the weight room, go to class and get your homework done,” catcher Jeff DeSmidt said.

That wasn’t the case for any Minnesota players this week, which will make their game today at Northern Iowa, starting at 3 p.m., a little tougher.

Storms throughout the Midwest canceled the team’s Thursday night flight to Illinois, where they were scheduled to play Northwestern on Friday afternoon. The team wasn’t able to fly out until Friday night, canceling that day’s game.

When they finally did arrive, heavy rain canceled their Saturday doubleheader.

As a result, the series was compacted to a pair of doubleheaders on Sunday and Monday, after which the team took a two hour bus ride to O’Hare airport and flew back home around 8 p.m. Monday night.

“It’s pretty draining,” said Dustin Brabender, who pitched a complete game against Northwestern on Monday. “Between the travel and crappy weather, and guys missing classes – I think guys get pretty worn down.”

Because the team’s off day was bumped back to Tuesday, they will board a bus around 9 a.m. today for a 220-mile ride to Waterloo, Iowa.

Coach John Anderson said that he will only bring the players who he expects to play on the trip so the others don’t need to miss any more class unnecessarily.

“That’s our policy on midweek games,” he said. “If you’re not playing, might as well keep up with your schoolwork.”

Of course, midweek games against non-Big Ten teams like Northern Iowa are primarily scheduled to play a lot of players who don’t get regular playing time, so it will be mostly just starting pitchers that get to stay home.

Scott Fern is the probable starter for the game. The freshman’s only career start also came against Northern Iowa, when the Panthers came to the Metrodome earlier this month and won 13-11. Fern had a mediocre outing, giving up three runs in three innings of work.

Anderson typically pitches as many players as possible in midweek games, so three innings would be standard for a starter, but because of the Monday doubleheader, Fern may get a chance to go longer.

“We want to get guys work, but at the same time, we have to protect ourselves for our series against Illinois this weekend,” Anderson said. “We can’t use all our pitchers up in a midweek game and not have guys for our four game series.”

The team will return to Minneapolis late tonight, just in time to get ready for their important series against Illinois, which leads the Gophers by just two games in the standings.

“When the schedule backs up it can get really hectic,” Anderson said. “But we have resilient kids who love to play baseball, so I think it’ll work out.”