Gophers take out agression, win 28-11

Tim Klobuchar

Former Gophers pitcher Joe Westfall sat in the Siebert Field press box Wednesday, slightly annoyed at the way his old team was unmercifully pounding Division II Southwest State.
Through three innings, Minnesota was ahead 9-0 but had no home runs.
Finally, in the fourth, pinch-hitter Mark Groebner hit a two-run blast over the left field fence to increase the Gophers’ edge to 16-0. It also provided Westfall, who pitched for Minnesota from 1993 to 1996, with his cue.
“I’ve seen my bomb,” he said. “Now I can go home.”
With that, he got up and left. As far as dramatic exits go, it wasn’t much, but it’ll have to do for a 28-11 eyesore. That’s the most runs Minnesota has scored since it beat Rutgers 36-7 in 1991.
With the rout, the Gophers improved to 21-18 on the year, while Southwest State fell to 19-9.
The Gophers racked up a season-high 25 hits, and had innings where they scored four, five, six and nine runs. The game provided the ultimate opportunity to pad offensive statistics, and a multitude of players took advantage.
Bob Keeney hit two home runs and drove in five, Craig Selander knocked in six runs on four hits, and Mike Arlt had four hits to lead the relentless offense. Others who chipped in included Jeremy Negen (three hits), Phil McDermott (four RBIs) and Mark Devore and Matt Scanlon (two hits and two RBIs apiece).
“It’s hard to keep your focus in a game like this,” Gophers coach John Anderson said, “especially on defense late in the game. But you’ve got to respect the game, and play it the right way. We had a chance to turn three double plays in the late innings, and we only turned one. That was my only disappointment.”
The gaudy numbers tell almost everything anyone needs to know about the game, except for a few sidebars: Keeney hadn’t played since April 11 at Penn State, a span of 10 games. He went hitless in his first four at-bats, then homered in his next two. Keeney, a switch-hitter, homered from the left side in the sixth, a solo blast. In the seventh, he hit a grand slam from the right side.
With the score 24-8 in the seventh, Minnesota reliever Ted Zrust entered the game — as a pinch hitter. He drew a walk. In the eighth, starting pitcher Mike Diebolt made an appearance — as a pinch hitter for Zrust, marking the only time Diebolt will ever relieve Zrust. He popped out to third.
Minnesota can now focus on its key Big Ten series against Illinois, which starts Friday at Siebert Field. The Gophers are 8-5, in third place in the conference. The Illini are 9-11 and in eighth place in the Big Ten, but just one game out of fourth.
Note: Senior Eric Welter saw his 94-game consecutive games started streak come to an end Wednesday night. Welter was hit in the right ear by a ball while standing in center field during batting practice before the game. He could’ve played if he had to, but Anderson elected to keep him out until this weekend.
Freshman shortstop Mark Devore hit a two-run single in the fourth inning, his first RBIs of the year after 56 at-bats.

GAME SUMMARY
SWS 000 053 003 — 11 11 4
Gophers 306 941 50x — 28 25 4
SWS — Rahe, Richter (3), Reasner (4), Dekker (5), Watson (5), Pack (6), Helin (7) and Hess, Smith (7). Gophers — Dobis, Wagner (5), Kitzerow (6), McGrath (8) and Negen. W — Wagner, 3-1. L — Rahe, 4-2. HRs — Gophers, Selander (6), Groebner (7), Keeney 2 (3). T — 3:04. A — 144.