Gophers back at Siebert Field after 10-game road trip

by Anthony Maggio

It’s been 19 days since Minnesota’s baseball team has suited up for a contest at Siebert Field. But tonight the Gophers finally kick off a four game series against Purdue in the stadium they call home.

Minnesota (27-15, 15-3 Big Ten) endured a 7-hour bus ride back from Nebraska early Thursday morning, where the Gophers lost their final game, 9-2, of a 10-game road trip on Wednesday night.

Minnesota finished the road trip 6-4 and despite losing its final game, won five of its last seven. Still, not everyone is satisfied.

“I wouldn’t call (the road trip) disappointing,” first baseman David Roach said. “But I certainly think we can play better on a more consistent level.”

The first-place Gophers don’t have much time to rest up from their recent grueling journey. Three critical series to wrap up the Big Ten season start tonight against the seventh place Boilermakers (23-19, 8-11).

Purdue comes to town well rested, as its last game was last Sunday. But the Boilermakers were swept at home last weekend by Ohio State.

The Gophers brought out the brooms last season against Purdue, sweeping the Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Ind.

A repeat performance would be much obliged.

While Minnesota is out of reach for most of the conference, second place Ohio State (28-12, 14-6) is nipping at its heels.

In the next two weekends, the Gophers and Buckeyes face teams currently in the bottom half of the conference. After this weekend, Minnesota travels to last place Iowa (13-21, 5-14). Ohio State has two-straight home series: this weekend with sixth place Michigan (22-18, 9-9) and next weekend with ninth place Michigan State (14-27, 6-12).

In the final week of the season, the two teams square off at Siebert Field for a series that could decide the winner of the Big Ten, and, in turn, who will host the conference tournament.

“We’re still in the driver’s seat; we still have them by a few games,” pitcher C.J. Woodrow said. “I don’t think we have a sense of urgency, there’s just a sense of purpose.”

Woodrow has more than one goal to shoot for this weekend. The senior is just four strikeouts away from setting Minnesota’s all-time strikeout record of 243 set by Paul Giel in 1954. Woodrow has 47 strikeouts this season in 51 and a third innings pitched. He struck out four batters in his last outing against Indiana last weekend.

“I know about it, but I’m not going to think about it,” Woodrow said. “We’ve still got three series’ so I’m not too worried about it, but it would be nice to do it at home.”

Woodrow is scheduled to start the first game of the doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. Saturday. Tonight’s first pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

Anthony Maggio covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected]