Late heroics cap sweep for U

Sarah Mitchell

Members of Iowa’s baseball team paced the third-base dugout Sunday at Siebert Field, desperately wanting to salvage one game in order to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Gophers.
On the other side of the diamond, the scenario was different but the mood was much the same. Even though Minnesota had already clinched the series win, winning Sunday’s game almost seemed like an obsession.
Timely hitting, a key phrase that represented the Gophers’ struggle last weekend in their split against Purdue, was surprisingly the team’s savior on Sunday. Ninth inning pinch hitter Josh Holthaus delivered a two-out, game-winning single, which allowed freshman Rick Brosseau to score from second base and secured a sweep of the Hawkeyes for the second consecutive season.
“I wrestled with whether or not I should hit Holthaus before or after (Mark Devore, who pinch-hit for Matt Brosseau),” head coach John Anderson said. “As it turns out, it worked out good.”
The sweep improved Minnesota’s record to 22-6 overall, 6-2 in the Big Ten, and sent the Hawkeyes (9-11 overall, 3-5 in the Big Ten) plummeting to the bottom half of Big Ten standings.
Gophers hitters made their presence known, especially in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader. The team combined for 17 hits and 14 runs, 13 of which were earned.
Junior Craig Selander, who went 6-for-14 in the series, posed the biggest offensive threat on Saturday. Selander took advantage of runners in scoring position in game two, as he hit his 10th home run of the year, a grand slam.
“I felt like I was a lot more patient,” Selander said. “The middle of our lineup hasn’t been coming through in RBI situations and we have focused on that a lot more.”
Six players knocked in runs as Minnesota hitters put on an offensive clinic, recording two six-run innings en route to a 14-5 victory. Although the Hawkeyes’ pitching staff had a high earned run average coming into the series, freshman Rick Brosseau said the Minnesota bats were more responsible for the win than Iowa’s pitching.
“They had some good pitching, but I think we just got some timely hits in the first game, and in the second game we just kind of poured it on and scored some runs,” the shortstop said. “I don’t think their pitchers were any worse, but we just got some breaks, especially in the first game.”
Defensively, Minnesota only committed three errors. Second baseman Matt Brosseau showed his defensive range on numerous occasions by nabbing balls that easily could have ignited Hawkeye rallies.
“We made some outstanding plays on defense and got to the ball. I just thought overall the difference in us sweeping them was our defense,” Anderson said. “We didn’t have good range on defense last year and we didn’t get to a lot of balls that we should’ve.”
The team received strong performances on the mound, even in the absence of number one pitcher Ben Birk. Gophers pitchers allowed a combined 31 hits and 10 runs, five of which were earned.
Dan McGrath went the distance Sunday, giving up eight hits in a shutout win. It was Minnesota’s second complete game shutout of the series, as Brad Pautz threw a three-hitter in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader.
Following two mid-week games against St. John’s and Concordia of St. Paul, the Gophers travel to Ann Arbor for a weekend series against Michigan. Although the Wolverines are buried at the bottom of the Big Ten, McGrath predicts a competitive series.
“It’s a very exciting season because we like battling,” McGrath said. “Guys get hits and we don’t get our heads down if we are two, three runs behind early on. It’s a long ball game and anything can happen.”

Gophers hitting statistics (4 games)
AB R H RBI
Arlt 14 5 4 1
Scanlon 14 1 4 6
Quinlan 13 5 3 2
Groebner 12 5 4 1
Selander 14 5 6 8
Holthaus 5 0 3 3
Horton 10 0 3 1
R.Brosseau 12 2 4 1
M.Brosseau 10 1 3 2
Negen 10 2 4 2
Devore 7 2 3 0
Egan 1 1 1 1
Team 122 29 42 28