Minn. deals with chill in Illinois

Inclement weather forced games to be pushed to Sunday and Monday double-headers.

Correction: This article incorrectly stated how many batters Gophers pitcher Tom Buske hit by pitches. He hit six.

It was a long weekend for the Gophers baseball team, and it’s still going.

Typically, Big Ten baseball series are made up of a game Friday afternoon, a doubleheader Saturday and a game Sunday afternoon.

But with storms sweeping through the Midwest, the series was one of the many in the Big Ten affected by the fickle weather.

The Gophers spent both Friday and Saturday in their hotel as the first three games of the series were cancelled. As a result, doubleheaders were scheduled for Sunday and today.

The teams split Sunday’s doubleheader, with the Gophers winning 7-4 in the first game and Northwestern winning 10-0 in the second. The two teams will start their doubleheader at 11:00 a.m. today, with the first game going nine innings and the second going seven.

Leadoff hitter Matt Nohelty reached base four times in the first game Sunday and improved his team-leading batting average to .410 on the day. Mike Kvasnicka went 2-for-4 in the game with two RBIs and two runs scored.

Starter Tom Buske got the win in the first game, giving up four runs in seven innings of work. He struggled with his control, letting 13 runners on base, but was helped out by a pair of double plays.

The temperature hovered in the high 30s and low 40s all day, with a biting wind chill. In between games the Gophers (15-15, 5-5 Big Ten) used their 15-minute break to climb on the bus and get out of the cold.

The cold also made Buske’s lack of control sting a little bit more for Northwestern players. The junior right-hander hit five batters in the first game, which is as many as he had in his other seven appearances this year.

Junior Kyle Carr started the second game, coming off a complete game shutout against Ohio State last weekend. He started sharp, striking out five batters in the first two innings, but walked two batters and gave up a single in the fourth before Chris Lashmet hit a grand slam to give the Wildcats (9-15, 4-6 Big Ten) a 5-0 lead.

Reliever Chauncy Handran entered the game in the sixth inning, with the Gophers trailing 6-0. The defense committed three errors in the bottom of the sixth as Northwestern scored four unearned runs.

It was only the second time the Gophers, who are averaging almost six runs per game, have been shutout this season and it was the biggest margin of defeat in a conference game this year.

Getting in all four games of the series is important because of the logjam in the Big Ten standings. Minnesota and Northwestern were two of the five teams which came into the weekend tied for fifth.

After tonight’s doubleheader, the Big Ten picture will be clearer. The race for fifth isn’t a trivial one, either, as only the top six finishers in the conference advance to the Big Ten tournament.