Gophers take midweek matchup over Concordia St. Paul

The Gophers worked in seven different pitchers throughout the game.

Infielder Micah Coffey at bat during the game against South Dakota State at Siebert Field on April 13, 2015.

Maddy Fox, Daily File Photo

Infielder Micah Coffey at bat during the game against South Dakota State at Siebert Field on April 13, 2015.

by Jack Warrick

The Gophers played local Division II opponent Concordia St. Paul on Tuesday in a midweek matchup that was used as somewhat of a training exercise for this weekend’s series against Indiana.

No. 20 Minnesota (29-12, 11-3 Big Ten) took the victory 5-0 against Concordia St. Paul (20-13) in a game that saw seven different Gophers pitchers.

“We had a clean game and that’s baseball,” head coach John Anderson said. “That’s why anybody can beat anybody on any given day.”

Outfielder Riley Smith blew the game open in the first inning when he hit a two-run home run up the left field line. His first homer of the season gave the Gophers an early lead — all they needed to get the victory over the Golden Bears.

After a mostly-quiet middle chunk of the game, the Gophers put three more runs on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning. Infielder Micah Coffey, with the bases loaded, hit a single that scored two and a walk from catcher/ first baseman Eli Wilson gave him a run batted in, making the final score 5-0.

“I think tonight was really about trying to get pitchers into the game,” Anderson said. “I was impressed with the guys that hadn’t pitched for awhile. They went out there and threw some good off-speed pitches.”

Nick Lackney got the start on the mound and pitched two innings of scoreless baseball. Then, freshman Joshua Culliver came in, following Lackney for another two innings. Culliver allowed two hits and no run and earned the win.

The other five pitchers threw for one inning each. Fred Manke finished the game off in the ninth, Jeff Fasching threw one, as did Bubba Horton and Jake Stevenson, all contributing to a shutout win. Freshman Ryan Duffy threw one inning, his first inning since the Purdue matchup in mid-April.

Duffy had an appendix surgery that left the coaching staff questioning whether to play him anymore this season. He could still redshirt for this year.

“Just getting back in the feel of things and getting my arm strength back up was a big thing,” Duffy said. “Everyday I’m getting back to where I was before the surgery, so I’m getting there.”

Toby Hanson, a usual outfielder for the Gophers, worked in at designated hitter as he continues to recover from his wrist surgery. He had two hits on four at bats against Concordia St. Paul.

“The big thing is kind of just getting timing back,” Hanson said. “And just getting more comfortable every day.”

Anderson moved around other players, putting Wilson to first base for the first time in his career. The Gophers prepare for the home series against No. 15 Indiana this weekend. 

“We just go out and we play ball like we always have,” Hanson said. “And don’t try to make the game bigger than it is, no matter what the matchup is.”