Unbeaten series streak is a testament to Gophers’ fundamental consistency

Minnesota has not lost in 21 Big Ten series, and the team credits fundamentals.

by Matt Perkins

In 1876, Minnesota’s baseball team played the St. Paul Saxons in its only game of its inaugural “season,” losing 91-39.

Needless to say, fundamentals soon became a priority for the Gophers.

Flash forward to present day, and it’s been nearly three years since the Gophers lost a Big Ten series. And if you ask coach John Anderson how this streak of consistency came to be, he will answer with one word: fundamentals.

But he won’t be understated.

” ‘Fundamentals.’ That’s the word, ‘fundamentals,’ ” Anderson said. “If you need anything, it’s good, strong fundamentals in order to execute consistently.”

Now, the Gophers are making history with each and every Big Ten series they play.

Their consistent performance during the last three years has developed into back-to-back full seasons without a Big Ten series defeat.

Since losing an abbreviated three-game set to Illinois on April 19-20, 2002, the Gophers have gone 21 Big Ten series without a loss.

During that span, the team is 59-20 in Big Ten play and has won the regular-season title all three years.

“It says a lot about our basics,” senior third baseman David Hrncirik said. “We’ve stayed focused on doing the things we know how to do, and it continues to work out for us.”

Unlike Hrncirik, a majority of the Gophers haven’t even experienced the short end of a series. Twenty-eight of the 39 players on the roster remain undefeated in conference sets.

“I think that is what helps develop a tradition,” Anderson said. “When you are able to have consistent success from being a fundamentally sound ball club, you are able to create a long-lasting tradition like we have here.”

The program has developed a new tradition during the last 10 years in its nonconference scheduling.

In eight of the Gophers’ last 10 seasons, they have started off playing multiple top-25 nonconference teams. Seven of those eights seasons saw the Gophers fall to a losing record in their first 10 games, including this one.

And, not surprisingly, senior pitcher Josh Krogman said this year’s 7-11 nonconference start might have been because of an oversight on their part.

They might have forgotten about the fundamentals.

But they’re working on it.

“Earlier in the season, we thought our sights were set a little bit higher than what we were capable of accomplishing at that time,” Krogman said. “We were able to come back, internalize and be ready to play one game at a time.”

Krogman might not play

Krogman, who has been nursing an ailing throwing shoulder, might not return for the weekend’s series against Indiana.

Krogman hasn’t pitched in three weekends. Anderson said that Krogman would pitch in an intrasquad game Tuesday but might not start against Indiana this weekend. He said that if Krogman did pitch, it would be Sunday on a pitch count.

Loberg pitcher of week

Senior starting pitcher Matt Loberg was named Big Ten pitcher of the week for the second straight week Tuesday after pitching eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over Michigan on Friday.