Baseball wins 3 key games

Sarah Mitchell

Flashes of red and gray dashed back and forth between Siebert’s left and center field following Sunday’s baseball game between Minnesota and Indiana. While the post-game sprints might have been painful for the Hoosiers, the exercises were refreshing to Gophers fans.
Whether the sprints and jumping jacks were a coach’s punishment for his team did not matter, as the Hoosiers received a lashing from the Gophers over the weekend, losing the series three games to one.
“We really didn’t know anything about them coming into the series, so I guess coming out with at least three wins was really nice because it got us back into the swing of things,” Gophers center fielder Mike Arlt said.
After Minnesota (31-12, 12-8 in the Big Ten) bounced back from Friday’s loss to win the series, it seemed impossible that anyone besides Indiana (26-22, 11-9) could be disappointed. But following game four, head coach John Anderson said he was not satisfied with the performance of his pitching staff.
“I don’t think we pitched very well this weekend. The last couple of weekends we haven’t pitched like we are capable of pitching,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the problem was that Indiana hitters were seeing pitches up in the strike zone, a dangerous place to throw the ball. In addition, Anderson said he was disappointed with the Gophers pitchers continuously being behind in the count.
These problems were stressed to the pitching staff after the game.
“We have addressed that. We haven’t pitched to our expectations,” Anderson said. “We have to keep the ball down, throw strikes and pitch aggressively. I just don’t think we pitched aggressively this weekend.”
The problems of the pitching staff were the most apparent Sunday in a game the Gophers won 19-11. At first the game felt like another endless midweek game, as Minnesota was leading 13-2 after six innings.
But after the top of the seventh, the Gophers lead dwindled to four, as the scoreboard read 15-11.
“We can’t let up like that,” Gophers infielder Matt Brosseau said. “In the Big Ten anything can happen, and it usually does.”
For Minnesota catchers, that unpredictability has been a good thing lately.
Last weekend Jeremy Negen hit the game-winning home run in game four of the Illinois series. This weekend it would be his understudy’s turn to play the hero.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh inning of Saturday’s game two, the Gophers found themselves down by one run. However, senior Mark Groebner revitalized the team with a lead-off home run. Two outs later, both designated hitter Josh Holthaus and catcher Jeremy Beaulieu stood on deck, wondering which would be Anderson’s chosen one.
“I was ready to hit, but I expected Holthaus to go in,” Beaulieu said. “So right before I got up to bat I said, (Anderson), who are you going to hit?’ And he said me. So I thought, All right, it’s go time.'”
Beaulieu had runners on second and third with two outs and desperately needed a base hit. The freshman, in only his third Big Ten at bat, hit a single to left field, allowing the winning run to score.
“I just thought it might be the best pitch I would see, and it worked out,” Beaulieu said of the fastball delivered by Indiana pitcher Tom Willerer.
Beaulieu was not the only one to deliver this weekend, as Arlt pulled out his offensive slump to go 6-for-11.
“Mike seemed to get back into his groove a little bit, and that’s a good sign,” Anderson said.
Arlt attributed his awakening to being more relaxed at the plate.
“I started to see the ball better,” Arlt said. “I think part of it was that I wasn’t being patient and I was swinging at bad pitches.”
Arlt, who at one time was the team’s lead-off batter but now finds himself drifting towards the bottom of the lineup, was more patient this weekend, as he walked four times.
The Gophers will have to wait patiently until next weekend for a chance to improve their Big Ten position in a series at Michigan State.
“We’ll just concentrate on playing good baseball and trying to win as many games as we can, and see what everybody else does,” Anderson said.

GOPHERS HITTING STATISTICS

AB R H RBI
Quinlan 15 9 8 7
Scanlon 17 5 7 3
Groebner 18 5 6 8
Selander 16 9 11 5
Arlt 11 2 6 3
M. Brosseau 5 1 1 0
R. Brosseau 12 3 3 4
Negen 10 1 4 2
Devore 10 3 3 2
Beaulieu 1 0 1 1
Holthaus 3 0 0 1
Horton 10 1 2 1
Egan 3 0 0 1
Totals 131 39 52 38