Minnesota finally to play at Siebert Field

by Paul Cordes

The Minnesota baseball team has had to wait a while to get in a home game outside this season, and, just like clockwork, it’ll wait again.

The Gophers were to open up their season at Siebert Field this afternoon at 3:05, but the team decided to give the field an extra day to recover after snow hit the Twin Cities area Tuesday, pushing all games of its series against Iowa back a day.

The series will now open at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday, followed by a doubleheader on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. and the series finale at noon on Monday.

This will be Minnesota’s first Big Ten game since March 31, when it beat Penn State 9-2.

That victory was followed by a 10-day stretch without a game for the Gophers before getting in a 7-1 win Wednesday morning over Northern Iowa, making Saturday’s game Minnesota’s first game outdoors in nearly two weeks.

And with poor baseball weather plaguing the Gophers (18-6 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) this spring, senior left fielder Mike Mee said it’s a little overdue to get back outdoors.

“It’s going to feel great to get back outside,” Mee said. “Iowa’s going to come in here and they always have a quality club, so we have to show up ready to play – whenever that is, depending on the weather. I think we’re ready to get back out there.”

The Gophers will need to show up ready to go as the Hawkeyes (13-9, 3-4) will attempt to rebound off a 7-6 loss in Lincoln to Nebraska when their ninth inning, three-run rally fell short.

Seven different Iowa hitters are sporting batting averages above .300.

That could be worrisome for Minnesota’s pitching staff, which has been lacking innings in the last two weeks and also gave up eight walks and a hit batsman Wednesday.

“You can’t live that way for a long period of time,” said coach John Anderson of the nine free rides given up to Northern Iowa. “Eventually a game like that will come back and bite you, so that’s something we need to clean up here in the next few days.”

Luckily for the Gophers pitching staff, Minnesota hitters will have a good chance to put some runs on the board this weekend.

The Hawkeyes’ pitching staff is giving up almost seven runs a game and Iowa’s three pitchers, with 25 innings or more under their belts, have earned run averages of 4.50, 4.80 and 4.88.

With Minnesota still swinging the bat well, senior catcher Kevin Carlson said it will be important to come out focused and ready to go.

“This weekend, playing Iowa, should be a great opportunity to win some games,” Carlson said. “So we’re looking to really jump out ahead as we kind of start the Big Ten season over again.”

And already with five conference games missing from the Gophers’ schedule due to cancellations, this part of the conference schedule will take on a little extra meaning.

Fewer games mean fewer opportunities to get much-needed league wins, making every game of the remaining six conference series all the more important.

Anderson said he can’t worry about the past, and the five games can’t be brought back, so his team needs to focus on what’s to come.

“We have less games to play, so winning percentage certainly does come into play,” Anderson said. “Obviously there’s going to be a priority put on each and every game here the rest of the way. I’m going to ask the kids to show up and be prepared to play and try to win as many as we can here.”