Iowa, U knock each other out

Matthew Cross

Sometimes selfishness can take a team a long way. At least it did for the Gophers baseball team this weekend.
Minnesota (14-12 in the Big Ten, 29-26 overall) was virtually eliminated from postseason play on Saturday evening after Michigan, Illinois and Indiana won twice, and the Gophers lost 6-5.
Just before Minnesota began its doubleheader on Sunday, Michigan beat Michigan State for the third time and ended the Gophers’ hopes of making the Big Ten tournament.
So Minnesota set its sights on playing the spoiler and keeping the Hawkeyes out of the tournament, which could be done with two wins Sunday at Siebert Field. The Gophers did it with impressive 5-1 and 9-6 victories.
The teams conclude their series tonight at 6 p.m.
Minnesota won both games of the doubleheader on Sunday behind an awesome display of hitting by senior Rob Smith. He went 6-for-6 with seven RBIs and four runs scored. He hit three home runs and a double.
“I just wanted to go out on a good note,” Smith said. “I said before the weekend that I wasn’t going to put any pressure on myself to do well, but to be honest I did. I guess it’s a pride thing.”
After hitting homers in the first and second innings during the second game Sunday, Smith came up in the fourth with two outs. Then Iowa pitcher Brent Glendinning hit Smith in the elbow with a first-pitch fastball.
The play caused many Gophers players and coaches to verbally retaliate at Glendinning and the umpires, who did not throw the pitcher out of the game.
Despite an ugly scene, the wins left Minnesota smiling Sunday afternoon. The players even enjoyed a postgame hog-pile and a prank on a couple of the freshman in front of their dugout.
Their giddiness is atypical of a team which is about to have its lowest Big Ten finish in at least seven years. Depending on what happens in the games today, the Gophers could end the season tied for sixth, which would be their lowest finish in 31 years.
Minnesota coach John Anderson said he is happy with the way the team fought back to win 10 of its last 14 games. He said making the Big Ten tournament became secondary midway through this season.
“Considering everything that’s gone on, we’ll be very proud of our season,” Anderson said. “Two or three weeks ago we could have packed it up, but we didn’t. You learn a lot during seasons like this, and you hope that this is something that will help us done the road.
“It hurts not to be (at the conference tournament) because that’s the expectation of this program and we didn’t do it. But if you have any pride, you’d come out and play the way they did today. That puts a positive mark on the program.”
Regardless of what happens tonight in the final game of the season, Minnesota will relish its above-.500 record.
The only time the Gophers didn’t make the Big Ten tournament in Anderson’s 14 years was 1989. In fact, this is the first time Anderson will know going into the final game that the team is done. It is a feeling he would rather not experience.
“There’s going to be a lot of emotion — even more so than normal,” Anderson said. “I’m happy for the seniors. It was a good day for them because they got to win a couple of baseball games.”
And that’s what it’s all about for Anderson in his worst season as coach at Minnesota. The year has become one of growing for the freshman and a search for consistency in the lineup.
The Gophers finally found it, just a touch too late.
SATURDAY’S SUMMARY

Iowa 002 201 1 — 6 7 0
Minnesota 210 000 2 — 5 8 2
Westfall, Pederson (4) and Guse; Mattiace, Parenteau (7) and Sienko. W – Mattiace (5-2). L – Westfall (2-5). Sv – Parenteau (3). HR – Min, Huls. 2B – Iowa, Schley, Martinez, Mitchell, Ostwald; Min, Guse. T-2:08. A-821.

SUNDAY — First Game

Iowa 000 100 0 — 1 5 0
Minnesota 100 103 X — 5 8 2
Felling, Diebolt (5), Kearin (6) and Guse; Austin, Parenteau (6) and Sienko. W – Felling (1-2). L – Austin (3-4). Sv – Kearin (4). HR – Min, Smith. 2B – Iowa, Frese; Min, Smith. T-1:50. A-1,179.

SUNDAY — Second Game

Iowa 200 002 2 — 6 10 2
Minnesota 260 001 X — 9 12 1
Dobis, Freeman (2), Diebolt (7) and Guse; Maccage, Glendinning (3) and Sienko. W – Freeman (2-2). L – Meccage (4-5). Sv – Diebolt (2). HR – Iowa, Mattiace, Mitchell; Min, Smith 2, McDermott. 3B – Min, Keeney. 2B – Iowa, Thieleke, Frese, Sienko; Min, Welter, Guse. T-1:53. A-1,179.

Gophers batting statistics
AB R H RBI
Keeney 9 5 5 2
Huls 12 3 3 3
Guse 11 3 3 2
Smith 9 4 6 7
McDermott 9 1 4 2
Selander 7 0 1 1
Groebner 1 0 0 0
Mahady 3 0 0 0
Quinlan 8 1 1 0
Horton 8 1 3 1
Stein 1 0 0 0
Welter 8 1 2 0
Griffin 1 0 0 0