Fall ball: Maroon team defeats White squad 10-4 in annual intrasquad game

Young pitchers struggled to find their ways against veteran batters Saturday at Siebert Field.

Kent Erdahl

An aspect of the college game was noticeably absent when Minnesota’s baseball team split up and squared off in the annual intrasquad baseball game over the weekend.

There was no ping coming from aluminum bats.

Instead, the Gophers hit exclusively with wood. But the only difference seemed to be the absence of that unmistakable sound.

The Maroon team defeated the White 10-4 at Siebert Field on Saturday, in a game full of offense and short on strong pitching.

Tony Leseman got the scoring started quickly for the Maroon team, scoring on a Jake Elder sacrifice fly after leading off the game with a stand-up double.

Three batters later, Sean Kommerstad showed no ill-effects of the switch to wood when he drove a three-run home run over the wall in center field.

“Obviously, it’s not as fun playing with wood because the balls don’t always get out of the infield very fast,” Kommerstad said. “But I was just looking for a pitch to drive and luckily I got most of it.”

The game continued in a similar fashion as the innings went on, but Minnesota’s coaches said the results had less to do with bats than experience.

“It’s about what you would expect early on,” assistant coach Rob Fornasiere said. “The old guys look good and the young guys look a little shaky.”

Minnesota only lost one position player from last year’s Big Ten Championship team, and head coach John Anderson said he expected the teams to hit the ball as well as they did.

The offensive power also had a chance to capitalize on some relatively untested pitching. Both teams started freshmen – Dustin Brabender for the White team and Gary Perinar for the Maroon team.

“For the younger players, especially, it’s good to put the uniforms on and to have a few people in the stands,” Anderson said. “I think you saw that in the two freshman pitchers. Last weekend, when there was nobody here, they threw more strikes than today. I think that comes from just changing the environment.”

Anderson said he isn’t worried about the progress of his pitchers because of experience and the need to move them along slower.

The coaches were simply happy to avoid injuries. Sophomore pitcher Cole DeVries gave them a slight scare in the bottom of the sixth, when David Hrncirik ripped a line drive off of DeVries’ ankle. Despite leaving the game, DeVries only had a bruise.

“Part of the reason we use wood bats in the fall is because pitching is the furthest behind,” Anderson said. “We also throw the wood bat in there to prevent someone from getting hurt. If you have an aluminum bat out there and Cole gets hit, maybe he breaks his ankle.”