Though most college students will be relaxing on a beach down south or catching up on some much-needed sleep at home, the Minnesota baseball team will get no such luxuries over spring break.
The Gophers will play seven games in the next 10 days, starting with a weekend home series against Missouri State
Tonight’s game with the Bears begins at 6:35 p.m., while Saturday’s is a 2:05 p.m. start and Sunday’s first pitch is at 1:05 p.m.
In the midst of a busy and demanding schedule, most coaches’ worries will be directed toward pitching and whether a team has enough arms to get through each game.
Coach John Anderson isn’t any different but feels his pitching staff has a lot of depth and is ready to get through what is sure to be a tough stretch of games.
“Overall I think if you go back and look at the games we’ve played to date, that pitching has been pretty rock solid and it looks like we have some depth,” he said. “Going through this stretch and then we get into the league, you need some pitching depth, and I think anytime you find that depth it helps your chances to be successful immensely.”
The Gophers (6-2 overall, 0-0 Big Ten) were able to get through a 36-inning weekend against stiff competition without using every pitcher in the bullpen.
Junior community college transfer Ethan Vogt, who pitched four and a third innings while giving up just one earned run and striking out five in relief against Arkansas last Sunday, is getting his first start in a Minnesota uniform tonight.
And while coaches continue to evaluate and look forward to conference play, Vogt said he is looking to take advantage of this opportunity.
“I think this is big for me,” he said. “We’ll be setting four starters for the Big Ten season right now, and we have about six guys in the running for it, so if I pitch well, it would help me on my way to starting during the conference season.”
And as far as preparing for the conference goes, the Gophers have had and will have quite the test over the next week and a half.
Tonight, Minnesota will see one of the best – if not the best – pitchers in the country as the Bears (4-5, 0-0 M.V.C.) will start junior left-hander Ross Detwiler.
Detwiler has allowed just 4 hits and one run in his 14 innings of work this season and is expected to be a top ten MLB draft pick.
After seeing three tough pitchers previous to this game, Anderson said the previous stout competition might help hitters against Detwiler, but the challenge still remains.
“Against great pitching you can’t get deep in the count – if you get deep in the count, your percentages go way down,” he said. “Pitcher’s counts can be very difficult and we’ll have to determine if (Detwiler’s) got command of his pitches.
“If he does, we surely better be aggressive and get to him before he gets us or it’ll be a long night,” Anderson said.
Sophomore centerfielder Matt Nohelty said even though it is going to be no easy feat, he believes the Gophers should be able to put some runs on the board and come away with a win.
“It’s a great opportunity to see where we are as a team, and how well we can handle great pitching,” Nohelty said. “We’re swinging the bat well as of lately, and hopefully we can continue that into today, string together some hits and score some runs.”