The Minnesota baseball team has developed a habit for making a comeback in games, but even the Gophers might have outdone themselves against Iowa.
when: 12:05 p.m.
where: Siebert Field
Minnesota scored six runs in the final two innings of Saturday’s game, including a two-run base hit from senior designated hitter Tijl Vanderwege in the bottom of the ninth, giving Minnesota the win and, maybe more importantly, the momentum.
And after the 9-8 come-from-behind win, the Gophers stole a pair of victories on Sunday, winning 3-2 in the first game of the doubleheader and finished things up with a 9-6 drubbing of the Hawkeyes (13-13 overall, 3-7 Big Ten) in game two.
The first half of Saturday’s game, though, was an entirely different story. Minnesota (21-6, 5-1) racked up three errors that were responsible for three runs.
It was the first time in 13 days the Gophers had played a game outside, and coach John Anderson said they played like it.
“We hadn’t been outside and haven’t played out on the field and to be honest we weren’t sharp at all,” Anderson said. “But to their credit, they were resilient and they hung in there and they found a way to get enough runs up there at the end of the game.”
And there was a copious number of Gophers responsible for it.
Sophomore center fielder Matt Nohelty brought home the first run in the eighth, and senior left fielder Mike Mee really got the ball rolling with a bases-clearing double off the wall to pull the Gophers within one.
A single, a hit batsman and an intentional walk loaded the bases for Minnesota in the ninth and Vanderwege finished it with a shot down the left-field line bringing in the tying and winning runs.
Vanderwege finished the day 4-for-5 with three RBIs and said it’s hard not to feel good about a day like that.
“I made a base-running mistake early in the game that cost at least a run so I was praying I would get a chance to redeem myself,” Vanderwege said.
And with a full day at the ballpark Saturday, Minnesota certainly needed a little extra energy to ride into the doubleheader.
In game one, the Gophers scored two runs in the second inning and added the game winner in the fourth.
That’s all Minnesota’s pitching staff needed to grab the second one-run win of the weekend.
Junior right-hander Gary Perinar allowed four hits in five and a third innings and sophomore left-hander Kyle Carr finished things with one and two-thirds of flawless relief.
The Gophers’ relievers, who Anderson said have been important as his starters continue to build on pitch counts, got a little more cushion in the latter half of the doubleheader after a six run fourth but Iowa didn’t roll over and pulled to within two in the sixth.
Senior left-hander Bill Johnson and right-hander Josh Oslin, though, put the brakes on a possible Hawkeyes comeback, allowing just one run in relief.
“You want your starters to trust you when you come out to finish up,” Johnson said. “And, so far, I think we’ve done that.”
The Gophers will conclude things today at 12:05 p.m. at Siebert Field, and Anderson said despite being guaranteed to win the series, today’s game is no less important.
“We’re five games behind in terms of games we can’t play, so every game is important to us for winning percentage,” he said.
“It’s not very often in the league you get a chance to sweep somebody, so when you have a chance at home, we have to come ready to play.”