It was a Wednesday and game one of a doubleheader. The opposing team was typical of such an occasion. And just like most mid-week teams the Minnesota baseball team faced, this team was forced to utilize its entire bullpen. Even the Gophers starting lineup fit the mold of a throw-away contest.
But the score after six innings, and even the final score, did not reflect that of a blowout.
It was Wednesday and game two of a two-team doubleheader. Once again, the opposing team was a “mid-week game team.” However, this time the Gophers starting lineup resembled that of a Big Ten match-up.
And the final score reflected that of a mid-week game.
Although the methods were different, Minnesota eventually won both games, defeating Bethel College 7-3 in game one before crushing Viterbo 18-0.
Most of game one was a battle between the Royals and Mark Groebner. The senior helped the Gophers to a 2-2 score when he hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of the sixth.
After that, coach John Anderson made substitutions — ones that made it look more like a Big Ten game was at stake. Regulars Robb Quinlan, Matt Scanlon and Craig Selander introduced themselves to the Bethel pitching staff, going a combined 3-for-6 and lifting the Gophers to the win.
After the game, Scanlon kiddingly blamed the slow start on Josh Holthaus. Holthaus started the game at third, where Scanlon usually plays.
“Anytime he is out there, you know it’s going to be close,” Scanlon said.
The nightcap was a different game, as Minnesota dominated Viterbo from the start. But the story was not of outfielder Craig Selander’s three consecutive home runs, or of Groebner’s second consecutive two homer game, or even of Rob LaRue’s first collegiate home run.
Instead, the story was of pitcher Bob Dewitt, who pitched two innings of relief, surrendering only one hit while striking out three. The redshirt sophomore has been plagued by arm injuries, but finally had a solid night on the mound.
“He pitched like he did two years ago,” pitching coach Mike Dee said.
DeWitt agreed with Dee and said the strong performance helped him figure out the reasons behind his struggles.
“I have to keep the ball down and stay relaxed,” DeWitt said. “(Dee) told me that if I want to throw on the weekends, that’s how I have to throw.”
DeWitt said that it’s been tough for him to get back on track, seeing how his mound time is limited.
“It’s tough when you haven’t thrown for a while,” DeWitt said. “You are only throwing three times a year and when you do you got to be ready. If they don’t go your way, it’s going to be another three weeks until you throw again.”
The Gophers head to Michigan State this weekend for a four-game series against the Spartans. DeWitt, who found out after his performance Wednesday that he would travel with the team, would like to throw on the road trip, but not if it means the starters are struggling.
“Ideally, I should never play because that means our pitchers aren’t doing well,” DeWitt said. “I would like to play, but I would rather have the team win.”