Gophers fall in series finale with Hawkeyes

Paul Cordes

After attempts at a comeback in the fifth, eighth and ninth innings, the Minnesota baseball team had chances to grab its 10th come-from-behind win of the season.

But the Gophers couldn’t make it all the way back as they fell yesterday in a noon contest at Siebert Field.

Iowa used a four-run seventh and an insurance run in the ninth to salvage their weekend with a win, beating Minnesota 8-7 in the final game of the series that the Gophers took three games to one.

Minnesota (21-7 overall, 5-2 Big Ten) flirted with one-run games all weekend, pulling out two games by a single run.

Coach John Anderson said a team can’t expect to win every close game.

“Statistics are going to catch up with you after awhile,” he said. “We just didn’t throw enough strikes, and we can’t put extra people on base. That’s how you beat yourself.”

And there’s no better example of that than the Hawkeyes’ four-run seventh after Minnesota tied the game at three.

Sophomore left-hander Kyle Carr, who had a nearly flawless outing Saturday in his one and two third innings of work, couldn’t find the strike zone while walking two guys, hitting another and giving up a base hit.

Freshman right-hander Allen Bechstein was called in to stop the bleeding, but before he could do so, all four runners found their way across the plate.

“You have to throw strikes,” junior starting pitcher Dustin Brabender said. “It’s easier said than done, but we try our best, and some days it just doesn’t work out.”

Brabender went six innings while giving up six hits and three runs.

The Hawkeyes’ (14-13, 4-7) pitching staff shared similar problems, and Minnesota took advantage of those Iowa free passes while staying true to their habits of remaining in the game when getting behind early.

Minnesota put up a three-run fifth inning to tie the game, making the Hawkeyes sophomore starter Nick Erdman pay for two lead-off walks to start the inning.

In the eighth, the Gophers once again began a rally after a walk to junior catcher Jeff DeSmidt gave Minnesota their first baserunner of the inning.

A base hit from senior catcher Kevin Carlson allowed senior designated hitter Tijl Vanderwege to the plate, who ripped a 3-2 fastball over the left-field wall to bring the Gophers within one.

Sophomore third baseman Nate Hanson, who scattered three singles and punched through two runs in the fifth, said the Gophers never give up even when down.

“We don’t quit fighting,” he said. “We try to give ourselves a chance no matter how many runs we may be down.”

But after a mentally draining series, the Hawkeyes refused to see another game stolen away from them and added a pivotal insurance run in the top half of the ninth.

Minnesota plated one more runner in the bottom of the ninth but couldn’t muster up a game-tying score.

Still, Anderson is pleased with his team’s performance on the series.

“For us to win three out of four and win two-of-three one-run games Ö we have nothing to be disappointed about,” he said. “I’m happy with our team and the way we battled, and I think it was a good weekend for us.”