Gophers baseball wins first two home games

Minnesota beat North Dakota State 3-1and South Dakota State 1-0.

Redshirt sophomore Jordan Kozicky watches the pitch during a game against North Dakota State University at Siebert Field on Tuesday, Apr. 4, 2017.

Chris Dang, Daily File Photo

Redshirt sophomore Jordan Kozicky watches the pitch during a game against North Dakota State University at Siebert Field on Tuesday, Apr. 4, 2017.

by Jack Warrick

The Gophers had their home opening series on Tuesday and Wednesday night at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

Minnesota (7-2) did not carry its hot hitting performance in Florida back home, but they pulled out the victories in a different way and beat the Bison (4-4) on Tuesday 3-1 and the Jack Rabbits (0-7) 1-0 on Wednesday.

“You’ve got to be able to win a 1-0 game, because we’re not going to hit .350 for the whole year,” head coach John Anderson said. “Eventually the percentages go back against you.”

The Gophers home opener started silent with two scoreless innings pitched by freshman Patrick Fredrickson. But in the third, Bison infielder Mason Pierzchalski had a base hit up the middle for an RBI to put Minnesota in a 1-0 hole.

But that would be the only run the four Gophers pitchers allowed to the Bison. 

In the fourth inning, infielder Terrin Vavra walked with the bases loaded to tie the game and Jordan Kozicky scored on a wild pitch in the next inning, and with one more coming in the seventh inning, the Gophers won 3-1.

Even with his team’s victory, Anderson said he was disappointed with the hitting during the North Dakota State game.

“I thought it was our poorest offensive performance of the year,” Anderson said. “I thought we got ourselves into some good counts and just chased pitches out of the zone and didn’t swing at strikes.”

Nonetheless, Vavra, who was named the Big Ten player of the week for last weekend’s performance, had three hits against the Bison for his fourth game with as many hits.

“Nothing really changes. It’s just about putting the ball in play and hopefully getting myself the opportunity to get on base to score runs,” Vavra said. 

Gophers defeat SDSU Wednesday

The Gophers went up 1-0 lead in the first inning after Luke Pettersen had a base hit, stole second and reached third on a balk. Then he scored when Vavra grounded out to the second baseman.

Pettersen generated much of the Gophers’ offense in the game with all three hits and one run, which would turn out to be the game-winner, coming from him.

“I was trying to just kind of stay back, get the ball in the air a little bit,” Pettersen said. “I’ve been hitting some ground balls the past couple games, so it worked out to my advantage I would say.”

Freshman pitcher Joshua Culliver started for Minnesota and went five hitless innings to make sure the Gophers stayed ahead.

Culliver said that he has tried to stay out of his head in these first couple games playing at the college level.

“I think that’s the biggest thing, is kind of pitching to my own strengths,” Culliver said. “A lot of us new guys we always say when we’re out there and it’s a college game, ‘don’t think that it’s a college game. Just pitch like how you’ve always pitched.'”

The Gophers will play at U.S. Bank Stadium again over the weekend: the three-game DQ Classic against Arizona (5-3), Washington (4-3) and UCLA (7-1).