Gophers take win with strong finish

With the wind making the infield at Siebert Field look like a sandstorm in the Sahara Desert, the Gophers baseball team won its home outdoor opener Wednesday night.
Minnesota’s 8-4 victory over Division III power St. Scholastica stretched the Gophers’ win streak to 10.
But it didn’t come easy.
It took eight Minnesota pitchers, four late runs and an occasional catch of their balance, but the Gophers (17-11) got it done.
“My gosh, I was on the mound and the wind was blowing me side to side,” said winning pitcher Andy Persby. “It was a distraction that’s for sure, I don’t know how we hit.”
Persby took to the hill in the seventh and threw two scoreless innings to pick up his second win of the season.
The bullpen was used early and often — which was coach John Anderson’s plan — and Persby said it was good for the Gophers to get back outside after playing their first 10 home games at the Metrodome.
“We went through a lot of pitchers and we couldn’t really get into a rhythm,” Persby said. “But it was a good game for us to have at Siebert before the Big Ten season.”
Believe it or not, Anderson said he was hoping to go through even more position players, but with the strong pitching of the Saints’ left-hander Cory Kemp (eight innings, six K’s), he was forced to scrap that plan.
That left it up to the starters — mainly first baseman Rob LaRue — to get things going offensively for the Gophers late in the ballgame.
LaRue went 4 for 4 on the evening, with a home run and 4 RBI. The sophomore’s eighth-inning, two-run dinger put the game away.
“It was good to see the play of Rob LaRue,” Anderson said. “We’ve been working with him the last few days, trying to get his swing squared away. We saw some of those results tonight and I hope it carries over into this weekend.”
The score might have been closer than a casual fan may have anticipated, but Anderson said “that’s baseball,” and he’ll take the outcome. Not because of the score favoring Minnesota, but because of the clean play of the Gophers.
“For the most part we played pretty well,” Anderson said. “We played good defense again, and got some timely hitting at the end of the game.”
No fielding errors and clutch hitting by the Gophers in the late innings was key to breaking up the 4-4 tie.
A single by shortstop Rick Brosseau drove home designated hitter Keith Walters to give Minnesota a one-run lead.
The Gophers added three in the eighth, capped by the LaRue homer, and sent St. Scholastica on its way back to Duluth.
Next up for Minnesota will be Ohio State at home on Friday. And when the Buckeyes arrive at Siebert for the four-game series, the Gophers hope their win streak, not the wind, blows through the weekend.

John R. Carter covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected]