Sun shines on Gophers’ bats in romp

Sarah Mitchell

Members of Minnesota’s baseball team looked drained as they headed to the locker room following Tuesday’s game against St. Thomas. The reason for their exhaustion, however, was not that they had to battle to win.
Instead they had to battle to stay awake.
The players were so worn out that it was a challenge for them to recap the day’s events. The team summed up its 19-5 win with these exciting comments:
“It was just a great day to play baseball,” Rick Brosseau said.
“It was a beautiful day to play baseball. We got some hits and scored some runs,” Matt Scanlon said.
Some were more poetic and complex in their explanation for the victory.
“We went out there and had a gorgeous day, and that sets the tone, right? Doesn’t it?” Craig Selander asked. “Everyone is out there, beautiful day. You just want to play baseball. You go out there and play with relaxed confidence. That’s just what we got to do, just let our talent take over.”
The Gophers (28-11) did just that, dominating the overmatched Tommies. As 19 Gopher runners crossed the plate, the strength of St. Thomas’ pitching staff became questionable. However, the Tommies might have been saving their top pitchers for the team’s conference doubleheader today.
But it doesn’t matter whether St. Thomas was throwing its number one pitcher or its batting practice hurler– Minnesota’s offense finally came out of its slump. Ever since the team’s early April sweep of Iowa, the offense has been stagnant.
When Gophers batters made contact with the ball, which happened often, they usually ran for a while. Eleven of the team’s 19 hits were for extra bases.
“We got some guys hitting after last weekend. We didn’t exactly crush the ball,” Selander said.
Selander led the surge with two home runs, his team-leading 12th and 13th of the year. Robb Quinlan, who continues to be explosive in the lead-off position, added to Minnesota’s plethora of extra base hits with a double and a grand slam.
Minnesota’s bullpen also received an abundance of opportunities. Six Gophers pitchers teamed up for the win.
“For some of them, it’s their second or third appearance, so it’s kind of nice to see them get some innings,” reliever Jason Shupe said. “Any chance for any pitcher to get out there is good.”
Vince Gangl got his first career start for the Gophers. Through four innings, Gangl surrendered four hits and two runs, both of which were unearned, while striking out two and walking two. After the game, Gangl said he felt comfortable filling the unfamiliar starter role.
“It’s just like any other day,” Gangl said. “Usually I come in in a situation where we need too much or too little, and I just keep the game where it’s at.”
Although Gangl started the game, he did not pick up the win. Freshman Kurt Haring recorded his first career win. In accomplishing this milestone, the right-hander allowed two hits and two runs, while striking out three and walking one.
Considering Minnesota’s domination on Tuesday, one might wonder if playing against Division III competition is a waste of time. But Selander said regardless of the opposing team’s skill level, the games can still be beneficial.
“These mid-week games give us a chance to build back up a little bit,” Selander said. “We know it’s less competition, but still baseball is a game where someone is trying to get you out.”