‘I’m not sure what the answer is’

Purdue’s sweep of the Gophers has Minnesota on pace for its worst finish in nearly 80 years.

With two big, late-inning collapses and some shaky starting pitching, Minnesota’s baseball season took another downward turn this weekend and is now on the verge of making program history for futility.

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south dakota State
what: Baseball
when: 6:35 p.m., Wednesday
where: Siebert Field

The Gophers (16-26, 6-14 Big Ten) melted down in both of their seven-inning games Saturday and were swept in four games by Purdue. They have now lost eight of their last nine games and dropped to eighth place in the Big Ten.

The team is on pace to finish the season 21-35, which would be their worst finish in more than 70 years. The 1929 Gophers finished a short season 6-11.

They are also almost a lock to finish with a losing record for the first time in 46 years.

“It’s our history and tradition, I’m aware of it,” head coach John Anderson said. “No one is immune from being humbled by this game, and we have been this year. If you stay around this game long enough, eventually something like this is going to happen.

“We’ll be part of history, but in a different way.”

The young bullpen, which Anderson said is “certainly not our strength” earlier this season, was again the problem for Minnesota over the weekend.

The Gophers led 6-3 going into the final inning of Saturday’s first game, but gave up four runs without recording an out, as Purdue won 7-6.

A few hours later, they led 5-1 with just five outs to go, but gave up six runs in the bottom of the fifth to lose 7-5.

“It hurts a lot,” said third baseman Nate Hanson, who went 6-for-13 with five RBIs in the series. “It was what’s been haunting us all year – that one big hit or that one more defensive play or one more good pitch. We didn’t get those.”

Junior Kyle Carr let an otherwise quality start – eight strikeouts in six innings – get away from him in the seventh inning of the first game Saturday, leaving the game to freshman Cullen Sexton with the bases loaded and no outs.

Sexton came into the game and gave up a walk, a double, two singles and a wild pitch to end the game.

“It was all my fault, that inning,” Carr said. “I didn’t cover first on one play, then I mislocated a pitch and then I walked the next kid. I lost it, that last inning.”

In the second game, starter Seth Rosin also left the bases loaded for freshman reliever Luke Rasmussen. The freshman gave up a walk and two singles, letting three runners score before Dustin Klabunde finished the inning.

The Gophers have now lost 12 games this year, in which they have led or been tied with two innings or fewer to go, and a freshman was on the mound in relief for all of them.

“With our young bullpen, it’s our job as starters to not give those guys such tough situations to come in to,” Carr said. “It would’ve been a lot different if I would’ve left the game with a couple outs, but to come into the game with no outs and the bases loaded and their four-hole hitter up; there’s just no room for error for them, and I feel bad about that.”

“There’s not a whole lot we can do about the bullpen,” Anderson added. “We don’t have a lot of choices unless we change our pitching around and put some older guys in the bullpen, but I don’t think that’s the answer right now, either. To be honest, I’m not sure what the answer is.”