Three wins move baseball into first

Anthony Maggio

Despite cancelled games, cold weather, limited practice time and a young team, Minnesota’s baseball squad has pushed on this season.

All year long, coach John Anderson has said his team possesses the right attitude and is headed in the right direction.

Anderson was speaking the truth, as the Gophers won three games against Purdue over the weekend, taking sole possession of first place in the conference.

“It shows that you must have the attitude to be resilient,” Anderson said. “You must have the attitude that things will get better if you stay with it and stay after it.

“They haven’t thrown the towel in, and I’ve been impressed with how well they’ve stayed together as a team.”

Minnesota (25-20, 13-6 Big Ten) defeated the Boilermakers 10-9 on Friday, then took both games in Sunday’s double-header 4-2 and 7-4.

The Gophers were behind Ohio State in the Big Ten heading into the weekend, but the Buckeyes split four games with Michigan. With a golden opportunity to assume the conference lead, the Gophers took full advantage against Purdue (21-24, 11-12).

“They’ve had a great attitude, made good decisions on defense and also got timely hitting,” Anderson said. “When we do those three things that’s how we win baseball games.”

On Saturday, senior Jason Kennedy set the pace offensively for the Gophers, hitting two solo home runs in four at-bats for his ninth and 10th homers of the season.

Second baseman Luke Appert stayed ahead of Kennedy for the team lead in round-trippers (11), however, blasting a solo shot of his own in the fifth inning ñ just prior to Kennedy’s second home run.

Junior David Roach completed the fifth inning trifecta, hitting his third home run of the season three at-bats after Kennedy.

“I thought we all went up with great approaches,” Roach said. “We saw the ball, moved runners, and did what we had to do.

“Most of their bullpen guys were really hittable.”

In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, offense took a back seat to pitching.

For Minnesota, junior C.J. Woodrow threw a complete game in the seven-inning contest, improving his record to 6-4 on the year as the Gophers won 4-2.

Woodrow allowed two runs on five hits, striking out six in the process and giving up no walks.

“It was a typical C.J. game,” Anderson said.

In the third game, the Gophers again showed their resiliency, coming back twice to earn a 7-4 victory.

Pitchers Jay Gagner and Josh Krogman both returned from injuries and saw action in the game. Freshman Luke Beresford earned the win.

The Gophers face Purdue again on Monday to finish off the four game series. A win would tie Anderson with legendary coach Dick Siebert for most wins all-time (754) at Minnesota.

“That’s going to boost us a little bit,” Woodrow said. “It’s always nice to sweep, but to sweep for a great purpose like that is even better.”

Anthony Maggio covers baseball and
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