Gophers top Purdue 9-5 in Big Ten opener

Derek Wetmore

The Gophers offense picked up Friday right where it left off against Cal Poly.

After struggling to find consistency through much of the rain-shortened and road-heavy non-conference slate, Minnesota (9-8) scored nine runs to close the West coast road trip. They followed that up Friday by scoring nine more runs and beating Purdue 9-5.

 “I think it’s what the doctor ordered for this team,” head coach John Anderson said.

The Gophers got Nick O’Shea back to start their Big Ten schedule Friday against Purdue at Target Field. The first baseman slugger drove in a run in Minnesota’s six-run fifth inning to bury the Boilermakers.

“It’s great,” O’Shea said of being back in the lineup for the first time since March 13. “Obviously it’s always hard missing time; being away and not being able to go full-bore and everything but I’ve been working into the last week and half or so and it was nice to get back out there on the field today.”

Purdue came in as arguably the top offensive team in the Big Ten, but sophomore pitcher TJ Oakes limited them to three runs on nine hits through six innings. Oakes walked two and struck out one. He held the Boilermakers scoreless through five, but started getting hit hard in the six before being relieved by left-hander Tom Windle after giving up a homerun to start the seventh.

Purdue actually outhit the Gophers 14-10, but Minnesota strung hits together in key spots.

Oakes admitted after the game he didn’t have the command he would have liked, and the cold weather may have played a factor in that. He threw 100 pitches, which Anderson said was the goal. He added that he would like to stretch out all his starters past the 100-pitch count soon.

Minnesota’s lead was once very comfortable at 8-0 but Oakes, Windle and Billy Soule struggled to get outs in the middle innings, giving up three runs in the sixth and two in the seventh.

The announced attendance was 585.

The same two teams will be at it again Saturday from Target Field with a double-header starting at 1:00 P.M.