Gophers sweep Wildcats

Austin Athmann hit two home runs in the third game of the series Sunday.

Gophers centerfielder Austin Athmann swings at a pitch at Siebert Field on Mar. 31, 2015.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

Gophers centerfielder Austin Athmann swings at a pitch at Siebert Field on Mar. 31, 2015.

by Kaitlin Merkel

The Gophers swept Northwestern on the road over the weekend for their fifth consecutive series victory, led by career pitching performances from senior Dalton Sawyer on Saturday and junior Toby Anderson on Sunday.
Sawyer pitched seven innings on Saturday, giving up just four hits and one unearned run while striking out a career-high 12 batters in a 10-1 Gophers victory.
No. 25 Minnesota (25-11, 9-2 Big Ten) started the series with a 6-5 victory on Friday, and Anderson finished it Sunday with a complete-game shutout in an 8-0 victory.
The Gophers are first in the Big Ten standings after the series sweep.
“It’s a catcher’s dream to set up on the outside corner and have them hit it all day long, and that’s exactly what Dalton and Toby both did,” junior catcher Austin Athmann said. “They made my job pretty easy. Whatever finger I put down, they put the pitch where I wanted it. It was a blast.”
Sawyer had plenty of backup from his offense on Saturday, as six different Minnesota batters had multi-hit games, and the team recorded 17 hits overall.
“The game plan was just to establish the fastball early, hit the spots, get into some plus counts and just put them away, and we were able to just execute,” Sawyer said. “I think our staff kind of needed a weekend like this. Our hitters have been picking us up all year, and … it was time for us to step up and pitch well.”
Saturday’s victory came after Minnesota starved off a potential Northwestern comeback on Friday for a one-run victory to open the series. The Gophers had a 6-1 lead entering the seventh inning, but the Wildcats stormed back with four runs in the seventh.
Sophomore reliever Lucas Gilbreath got the final out of the seventh and pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Redshirt senior Jordan Jess took the mound for the ninth and pitched two walks for his sixth save of the season.
Senior second baseman Connor Schaefbauer and sophomore first baseman Toby Hanson each hit their third home run of the season inFriday’s victory to lead the Gophers offense.
Anderson then led Minnesota to the series sweep on Sunday, giving up five hits while striking out four in nine innings.
The junior had plenty of support from the Gophers lineup, which recorded 10 hits on the day. Athmann hit two home runs in the game to bring his season total to a team-leading eight. 
“[Sunday] I finally saw the ball a little earlier than I had been all weekend,” Athmann said. “I saw a couple curveballs up, and I was able to hit them where I wanted to.”
Gophers head coach John Anderson said he was impressed with Toby Anderson’s ability to consistently throw strikes and keep a good pace during his complete game.
“[Toby’s] a good fit for the Sunday game. He’s a strike thrower, and the defense gets to work, and the pace of the game picks up,” John Anderson said. “I thought we pitched well all weekend. Guys showed up and played a pretty strong 27 innings of baseball all three days, so it was nice to see.”