Gophers struggle late in Evanston

After winning the first game, Minnesota fell to the Wildcats twice.

Aleutian Calabay

The Minnesota baseball team entered itsâÄô weekend series at Northwestern hoping that a win in the first game would lead to a series win. The Gophers opened the series with an 8-7 win , but they failed to win the series as they dropped the next two games to the Wildcats, 6-5 and 8-3. Early run support has been a struggle for Minnesota for most of the season; however, this weekend the Gophers were able to score runs early, but lost the series because of their inability to score runs late in the game while Northwestern produced timely hits in the final innings. âÄúWeâÄôve gotten a few leads lately, but we havenâÄôt been able to keep them,âÄù Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. âÄúWe let them back into games because we didnâÄôt execute some pitches and make some plays on defense.âÄù The Gophers (14-22, 4-5 Big Ten) continued to take the good with the bad in the series against Northwestern (12-22, 5-4). The Minnesota pitching staff surrendered a total of 46 hits during the series, but also kept 30 Wildcat runners stranded on base. Even though the GophersâÄô batters had a hard time delivering late in games, there were several players with strong individual efforts. Kyle Geason finished the series with seven hits and six RBIs, Nick OâÄôShea had five hits, four RBIs and three runs scored and Kyle Knudson finished with four hits and four runs scored. âÄúObviously weâÄôre a little disappointed,âÄù Geason said. âÄúBut you have to give credit to Northwestern, they came out swinging. They definitely came out and played hard, and we werenâÄôt able to match up in the second and third game.âÄù Game 1: Minnesota 8, Northwestern 7 The first game of the series began with Minnesota taking an early 2-0 lead in the first inning with RBI singles by Michael Kvasnicka and Geason. The Wildcats tied the game at two in the second inning. But the Gophers began taking over in the sixth inning as a Kvasnicka home run and a two-run single by Geason led to a three-run inning. Minnesota added another run in the top of the seventh to push its lead to 7-2. Gophers’ starter Seth Rosin kept the WildcatsâÄô batters quiet for most of the game, but ran into trouble in the seventh inning as Wildcat Chad Noble hit a two-run home run to close the gap to 7-4. Rosin came back to close out the inning and finished the day throwing seven innings, giving up four runs on 12 hits while striking out six. Knudson smashed a home run in eighth inning to put the Gophers up 8-4. The run ended up being pivotal as the Wildcats fought back in the bottom of the ninth inning for three runs, but closer Scott Matyas eventually put the game away to earn his fourth save of the season. Game 2: Northwestern 6, Minnesota 5 The Gophers once again jumped out to an early lead as Geason continued his hot hitting with an RBI single in the first inning. The advantage did not last long as Northwestern knocked around Minnesota starter TJ Oakes for four runs in the second inning to take a 4-1 lead. Momentum swung back the Gophers’ way as they scored four runs in the fourth inning highlighted by a two-run double from O’Shea . Oakes settled in during the middle innings, but gave up an unearned run in the sixth inning that tied the game at 5-5. Oakes finished throwing a career-high 6 2/3 innings, giving up nine hits and striking out five. Both offenses continued to be stymied until the bottom of the eighth inning when Northwestern’s Hamilton Wise lead off the inning with a single and eventually came home to score the game-winning run off a wild pitch by Allen Bechstein . Game 3: Northwestern 8, Minnesota 3 The Wildcats took an early 2-0 lead in the final game of the series as Noble came around to score in the first and third innings. The Gophers first scored in the top of the fourth inning as Matt Puhl led off the inning with a triple and was brought home on an RBI single by Geason. Northwestern tacked on another run against starter Phil Isaksson in the bottom of the sixth to push its lead to two. Isaksson finished the game giving up 13 hits but just the three runs in 5 2/3 innings that he pitched. Minnesota continued to be held in check at the plate until the top of the seventh inning as O’Shea hit a towering two-run home run to left field that tied the game at 3-3. However, the Wildcats came right back to retake the lead off a solo home run by Chris Lashmet in the bottom of the seventh. Northwestern then added an insurance run later in the inning to make it a 5-3 cushion. The Wildcats put the game away the bottom of the eighth inning as Trevor Stevens hit a three-run home run to put Northwestern up by five. The Gophers went down in order in the ninth inning to end the game quietly. âÄúAny time you lose a series, not matter who itâÄôs against, itâÄôs not what weâÄôre trying to accomplish,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúWe didnâÄôt play very well in any phase of game this weekend in my opinion. We just didnâÄôt finish off games.âÄù