Hitting explosion leads U to sweep:Baseball team scores 46 runs on weekendBaseball team scores 46 runs on weekend

Tim Klobuchar

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The Gophers baseball team, needing a sweep to stay in the race for the Big Ten tournament, got it this weekend against Iowa, thanks mainly to its potent offense.
Minnesota closed out the sweep of the Hawkeyes with a 19-11 win Sunday afternoon in the second game of a doubleheader. The Gophers won the first game 2-1 in the only game of the series in which the teams didn’t combine for at least 17 runs.
The Gophers are now 26-23 overall and 12-9 in the Big Ten. Still, they didn’t pick up any ground on their closest competitors, Purdue and Illinois. The Boilermakers and Illini swept Indiana and Northwestern, respectively, to keep their distance from Minnesota. Purdue’s and Illinois’ conference seasons are now over.
There are various permutations on what will have to happen for the Gophers to crack the top four and make the tournament, but the most straightforward scenario is this: If the Gophers sweep ninth-place Northwestern at home next weekend, they’re in. Lose once, and their season is over.
But for now, the Gophers can at least be satisfied that they did to a team what Illinois did to them last weekend — go on the road and sweep. The teams played two seven-inning games on Sunday because Friday’s scheduled nine-inning game was postponed because of rain.
After scoring just 12 runs in four games last weekend, Minnesota scored that many in three different games in the Iowa series. The reason for the Gophers’ resurgence at the plate isn’t too complicated. They took advantage of mediocre pitching — and plenty of it.
“They didn’t pitch as good as Illinois did,” said Gophers left fielder Robb Quinlan, who was 5-for-6 in Sunday’s second game rout. “I know I saw a lot more pitches to hit this weekend than last weekend.”
Also, Minnesota stayed relaxed when things didn’t go its way, which wasn’t often. Considering the Gophers’ non-existent margin for error and the pressure that goes along with it, that was a bit unexpected.
“We answered the call every time this weekend,” Gophers coach John Anderson said. “If something went wrong, we didn’t go into an unaggressive or passive stage where we were feeling sorry for ourselves. We weren’t as determined last weekend. This weekend we were more relaxed and more determined.”
Trailing 5-3 in the second game Sunday, Minnesota erupted for seven runs in the third inning. Craig Selander hit a two-run homer, his ninth, and also had an RBI single in the inning. Catcher Bryan Guse, who had the game-winning single earlier in the day, hit a titanic blast down the right field line after Selander’s homer.
Minnesota hit six homers in the game, two by senior Bob Keeney. Quinlan also hit one, his team-leading 13th, and Troy Stein hit his sixth of the year. The Gophers took advantage of the wind, which was blowing out to right field. All six homers were to right or right-center.
In the only game of the series in which they didn’t treat the ball like a pinata, the Gophers still got just enough clutch hitting and strong pitching of their own, winning game one of the doubleheader. Minnesota got single runs in the sixth and seventh innings to overcome a five-hitter from Iowa starter Robert Holst.
Guse, buried in a 2-for-25 slump in Big Ten games, came through by singling in the winning run in the seventh. After Keeney hit a two-out double to left, Guse slashed a 3-1 change-up into left field just beyond the dive of Iowa third baseman Brian Mitchell.
“It was a big relief,” Guse said. “I was sitting on a change-up because that’s what he got me out on in my first two at-bats. I knew he wasn’t going to throw me a fastball on 3-1.”
Senior Eric Welter tied the game 1-1 in the top of the sixth with a line-drive homer to left, his fourth of the year.
Ted Zrust took over for starter Adam Williams in the fourth and finished the game, allowing just one hit and one walk to pick up the win.
The pitchers’ duel in the third game was nothing like the doubleheader Saturday, when Iowa pitchers took advantage of the team’s newly-dedicated clubhouse by visiting it early and often in 12-5 and 13-5 Minnesota routs.
The only moment of doubt the Gophers experienced the entire day came in the bottom of the fourth in game one when Iowa scored three unearned runs to take a 5-3 lead. But Minnesota scored four runs in the top of the fifth to take the lead for good.
Every starter in the Gophers’ lineup had at least two hits, except Guse, who had none. Mike Diebolt allowed just four hits and one earned run in going the distance for the fifth time this year. He also struck out 11, running his Big Ten-leading total to 103.
Minnesota kept up the onslaught in game two, scoring all its runs in the second, third and fourth innings. Phil McDermott, who had seven RBIs on the day, had a three-run double in the second.
The 32 hits Minnesota pounded out made it easier to forget the defense, which committed six errors on the day. A week ago, the bats didn’t provide for any margin of error (or errors).
“I guess that’s why offense is so important,” Anderson said. “Sometimes you can overcome your deficiencies, and we did that today.”

SUNDAY (GAME ONE)
Gophers 000 001 1 — 2 5 0
Iowa 000 100 0 — 1 3 1
Min — Williams, Zrust (4) and Guse; Iowa — Holst and Sienko. W — Zrust, 4-2. L — Holst, 3-5. HR — Min, Welter (4). T — 1:45. A — 469.

SUNDAY (GAME TWO)
Gophers 227 312 2 — 19 23 2
Iowa 142 100 3 — 11 18 2
Min — Williams, Zrust (2), Felling (3), Freeman (7) and Guse; Iowa — Meccage, Wulf (3), Kot (5), Belger (6), Banta (7) and Smith. W — Zrust, 5-2. L — Meccage, 5-5. HR — Min, Stein (6), Quinlan (13), Selander (9), Guse (5), Keeney 2 (5); Iowa — Mitchell (18), Heinen (5). T — 2:45. A — 469.

Gophers hitting statistics (4 games)
AB R H RBI
Stein 17 5 7 4
Welter 16 5 7 8
Quinlan 18 3 8 9
Guse 16 3 3 2
Selander 10 4 6 5
Scanlon 11 4 3 0
McDermott 15 6 6 7
Keeney 12 7 8 4
Devore 15 5 7 4
Griffin 6 2 2 0
Groebner 6 2 3 1
Totals 142 46 60 44