Fern to get first start in midweek matchup

The freshman will square off against Northern Iowa with first pitch at 3:05 p.m.

Trevor Born

Scott Fern will make his first collegiate start Wednesday night when the Gophers play Northern Iowa at the Metrodome at 3:05 p.m.

Fern, a redshirt freshman, is one of many young Minnesota players who will get to play in the game. Midweek games against lower-level competition give head coach John Anderson a chance to spread experience around.

“These games are all about additional competition and player development,” Anderson said. “It’s all about helping your team grow.”

Fern struck out three of the 10 batters he faced against then-No. 2 Missouri in March, but has pitched a total of just four innings this season.

Fern throws in the 85-90 mph range with a good curveball and is one of Minnesota’s top pitching prospects.

“I’m excited to get him out there and start developing him and getting him ready to help our program for the next four years,” Anderson said.

Fern’s emergence would be a nice addition to the Gophers pitching staff, which has struggled with consistency all season.

In losing three of four games to Ohio State this past weekend, the staff allowed 11, eight, four and one runs. Junior Kyle Carr pitched a complete game shutout on Saturday – the first of the season for the Gophers – but on Sunday four different pitchers combined to give up eight runs, keeping the Gophers from splitting the series.

“The pitching staff has kept us in most games,” outfielder Matt Nohelty said. “There have just been a few blips.”

Currently the staff ranks seventh in the Big Ten with a team ERA of 5.74.

“I’m happy with the ways guys have pitched lately,” catcher Jeff DeSmidt said. “They’ve been battling as well as they have all season, but we still need to work on avoiding those games where we give up a ton of runs.”

Wednesday’s game was originally going to be Minnesota’s first game of the year at Siebert Field, but due to the recent snowfall, the field isn’t in proper condition.