Gophers host tourney at the Dome this weekend

Minnesota will play Vermont, Ball State and Illinois State this weekend.

Robert Mews

Minnesota’s baseball team has a simple objective for this weekend’s Metrodome Tournament – take one game at a time and focus on what the Gophers can do, not what other teams can do.

Minnesota (2-5) hosts Vermont (0-3) at 6:30 tonight, Ball State (3-7) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Illinois State (1-7) at 3 p.m. Sunday.

While all the teams have losing records, coach John Anderson said they all had a similar path to this point in the season.

“They have the same environments that we do to try and get ready,” Anderson said. “They’re playing against some people that are further along than them.”

On Friday the Catamounts likely will send right-handed pitcher Chris Marsh (0-0) to the mound to face lefty Brian Bull (0-2).

Bull’s record has not reflected his ability to pitch effectively.

Opponents are batting .111 against him and he’s given up only two earned runs in 10 innings of work.

Given that Vermont has given up 33 runs in just three games – including a 19-12 loss to Delaware – there’s a chance Bull might finally get some runs behind him to sustain that first win.

“Well, I’ve been in that boat before too, and then the next time we’ve given up one,” Anderson said. “You can’t go by that. That’s the first series for them.”

Outfielder Mike Mee said he agrees with Anderson that you can’t overlook a team based on stats and records.

“We should take them just as serious as we take the DQ Classic,” Mee said.

Mee said last year’s squad overlooked its opponents a little bit when it came into the Metrodome Tournament.

“We had a tough start and we came into the Metrodome Tournament and didn’t play very well and kind of got beat a couple of games,” Mee said. “But we can’t do that this year.”

Then there’s the likelihood that Anderson and pitching coach Todd Oakes will send Tyler Oakes to the mound in relief at some point in Friday’s game.

“We’ll probably use him early in the series this weekend and then most likely give him a start Tuesday or Wednesday,” Anderson said. “I think he’s going to be one of our starters in our conference it appears right now.”

Oakes has a pitched well in his two appearances thus far. He has the Gophers second-lowest ERA at 1.59 and has struck out four batters in 5 2/3 innings of work.

On Saturday the Gophers will send right-hander Cole Devries (1-1) to the mound and he most likely will face Ball State’s right-hander Tyler Pritchard (0-0).

DeVries severely dropped his ERA on Saturday from 23.14 to 6.48.

“(It’s) polar opposites from last weekend,” DeVries said of the performance.

DeVries also added that there’s a chance he could pitch more inside the strike zone this weekend.

“It might take me an inning or two to figure out a team,” DeVries said. “But yeah, usually if it is a weaker team you can get away with more stuff than you can of course against a good team.”

On Sunday Minnesota probably will send right-hander Dustin Brabender (0-2) to face-off against Cardinal’s right-hander Dan Frega (0-2).

Frega has started three games for Illinois State this season, but has pitched only 6 1/3 innings while giving up 10 earned runs.

But, like Anderson said, the teams’ records and stats early in a season don’t indicate the possibility of an upset.

“I’m sure they’ll come in here Ö and be excited to play,” Anderson said. “And I’m sure it’s an opportunity for them to come in try to beat Minnesota, which is only going to help their fortunes.”