Meyer takes new approach, finds success once again

Gophers pitcher Ben Meyer pitches during a game against Nebraska at Siebert Field on April 13th.

Daily File Photo

Gophers pitcher Ben Meyer pitches during a game against Nebraska at Siebert Field on April 13th.

Ben Gotz

Senior Ben Meyer has been the only reliable presence in the Gophers’ rotation, but he’s struggled so far this season.
 
Meyer has been working to turn his season around this year after last season’s performance when he led the team in innings pitched and ERA and tied for the team
lead in strikeouts. 
 
And on Friday against Nebraska, he showed improvement. He had his best start of the season.
 
“I started a little slow, but I think I’ve been finding my rhythm,” Meyer said. “Making sure I’m still working ahead in the count is a big thing for me. As long as I’m getting ahead of hitters, I think I’ll have a lot more success going forward here.”
 
Meyer pitched six and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball on the road against the Cornhuskers Friday, leading to Minnesota’s first victory against a ranked team this season.
 
Meyer used all three of his pitches to succeed, and the Gophers recorded their third shutout of the season in a 3-0 victory.
 
“Ben had some of his best stuff all year,” redshirt junior pitcher Jordan Jess said. “He really had everything going for him, and they didn’t have a chance.”
 
Meyer made adjustments earlier in the week during bullpen sessions to correct issues that have been plaguing him all year. He showcased his new techniques on Friday.
 
Head coach John Anderson said before that Meyer was relying too much on his fastball. And the senior said he noticed hitters sitting on his pitches early in the count and watching his off-speed throws.
 
So in his bullpen work, Meyer focused on getting his breaking ball and changeup over for strikes and mixing up his pitches to keep hitters off-balance.
 
Now, he said he hopes his corrections will send opposing hitters back to the drawing board.
 
“Starting this weekend, I think I really showed I could do that early in the count,” Meyer said. “It proved itself to be effective.”
 
If Meyer’s new approach keeps working, he’ll start to climb up the Gophers’ all-time leaderboard and gain some family bragging rights in the process.
 
Meyer is only seven strike-outs away from joining the Gophers’ all-time top-10 strikeout leaders with 190 in his career.
 
He also only needs to throw seven more innings to tie his father, Bob Meyer, for the ninth-most innings pitched at Minnesota. 
 
“I kind of joke about it with him here and there,” Meyer said. “[It’s] just kind of cool to look … and see I’m only seven away from him because he had a very great career here.”
 
Meyer has had a successful career, too, and he’s made it a goal for the year to end on a positive note.
 
“Ben’s a senior; he’s got a lot of pride,” Anderson said. “He [was] disappointed in the way [he was pitching], and he was determined … to pitch better for his teammates and the team.”