Midweek nonconference game allows little time for looking at scouting report

by Robert Mews

Cramming. It sounds like a phrase used by test-taking students.

It’s also what Minnesota’s baseball team (12-10, 2-2 Big Ten) will do before playing at Northern Iowa (15-12) at 3 p.m. today.

The Gophers have avoided the Panthers scouting report and won’t take a peek until their bus ride to Waterloo, Iowa.

“We haven’t really studied them that much,” coach John Anderson said. “Getting into the midweek games you try to focus on your own team.”

And it might seem OK that they wait until the bus ride.

In a season in which a typical college baseball team has to play a four-game series against a conference opponent and then turn around two days later to play a nonconference foe, it would be hard to not focus on one’s own team.

Anderson said the features of a midweek game make it more difficult to focus on the opponent as it would against a weekend opponent.

“It’s a little harder to say you’re going to go after a certain guy with a certain (batting) line-up,” Anderson said. “So your lineup is not as critical because they change pitchers fairly regularly.”

Perhaps that’s why Anderson is using the approach of focusing on his players rather than the other team down in Iowa.

“We haven’t had any midweek games for three to four weeks here,” Anderson said. “So we’re going to use this game to get some work in, especially the players that haven’t (played) for a while.”

For one, Anderson said he would like to get freshman catcher Chris Herbert some playing time. Herbert is the teams’ fourth choice at catcher and hasn’t played much.

Anderson also said he would like to see pitchers Marcus McKenzie, Reid Mahon and Kyle Carr get some time on the hill.

It’s likely at this point that Carr will start today and the other two will pitch in relief later in the game.

Even while Anderson is using the game to play some of the younger players, junior outfielder Kyle Baran said a midweek game is still very important.

“I think it’s just like any other game,” Baran said. “They’re a good club and obviously we’re going to try and win.”

He also said it was important that the team focus on offense.

Anderson said the same thing.

“I would like to use each game here to make some progress, especially offensively,” he said. “We need to try and keep finding some answers to hitting.”

The offensive department has been lacking recently with the Big Ten’s second-worst batting average at .251.

And as outfielder Tony Leseman said, these midweek games can help get the ball flying.

“At this point in the season we’re just taking one pitch at a time,” he said. “Hopefully (we) just string together some hits and get some momentum going before Michigan.”