Lack of runs and lack of wins

Robert Mews

The ongoing offensive problems that have plagued Minnesota’s baseball team for much of the season continued to do harm this weekend in a four-game set against Michigan at the Metrodome.

The Gophers (14-13, 3-5 Big Ten) were blanked 2-0 in Sunday’s and Saturday’s second game to the Wolverines (16-11, 4-4 Big Ten).

The only win in the series came in a come-from-behind 6-5 win Saturday. Minnesota lost 8-6 after leading early Friday.

With the three losses, the Gophers now sit at second to last in the Big Ten standings.

Sunday’s game looked like anybody’s game until Michigan’s Nate Recknagel broke a scoreless tie in the top of the ninth with a two-run double to center field.

Starter Cole DeVries, who pitched a complete game, said he still was upset after the game about the pitch Recknagel hit.

“That kid had been hitting inside pitches on me all day long,” DeVries said about Recknagel. “And (I) just wasn’t thinking at the time.”

DeVries said catcher Chris Herbert, who made his first start of the season, made a suggestion to him, and he went with it anyway.

Before that pitch, DeVries was pitching what looked like his fourth shutout performance at the Dome.

He struck out nine batters and got out of many early jams by striking out batters.

“It was just one of those days where I felt locked in and in the zone,” DeVries said. “Pretty much felt like any pitch that I threw out there I knew was either going to be right at the glove or somewhere close around it.”

DeVries possibly could be sitting with a win if it wasn’t for the lack of offense. Minnesota managed to get only four hits.

The story was the same in Saturday’s second game.

The Gophers’ bats were silent as the Wolverines were able to squeeze out a 2-0 win off just five hits.

“Our Achilles’ heel all year has been our inability to score consistently,” coach John Anderson said. “I mean, until we do and until we can be more consistent on offense, I’m not sure we are going to win at a higher rate than we are right now.”

However, the Gophers were able to manage more offensive production in the first two games of the series.

In Saturday’s first game, Minnesota won with strong hitting up and down the lineup. Every starter got at least one hit except for outfielder Sean Kommerstad, catcher Jeff DeSmidt and third-baseman Jeremy Chlan.

And it was Dan Lyons’ bat that ended the game in extra innings.

With two outs and Michigan leading 5-4 in the bottom of the eighth, Lyons took a Chris Fetter pitch into left field for a two-run, game-winning double.

“In the whole at bat I was getting all fastballs, and he threw me a slider,” Lyons said. “I just saw something different in his hand when he threw it and knew it was off-speed and just got the bat on the ball.”

Lyons’ bat was alive in the first game of the series as well.

He was to get things started for the Gophers in the third inning with a two-run scoring double in left field.

However, his error with no outs and Minnesota leading 6-4 in the eighth inning helped put another run on the base paths for Michigan to complete a comeback after being down 6-0.

“I was just having some problems with balls in the hole,” Lyons said of the balls hit between the shortstop and third base area. “I’ve been working on that with Rob (Fornasiere) in practice.”