Gophers’ pains continue, Rutgers sweeps

Minnesota is 0-9 when the other team scores first, as Rutgers did in all three games.

by Matt Perkins

Minnesota’s baseball team has been inconsistent on the mound and in the batter’s box – two main reasons for its 4-10 start to the season.

But there has been some consistency in the scoring trends.

Through the first 14 games of the Gophers’ season, the team that has scored first has won the game 13 times. They are now 0-9 when they fall behind to start the game.

Minnesota’s three-game sweep at the hands of Rutgers this weekend at the Metrodome underscored this problem.

The Knights scored three in the first Friday en route to a 13-2 win, one in the first in a 6-2 win Saturday and a pair of runs in the third before holding off a rally in a 7-6 victory Sunday.

“It’s a cruel game,” coach John Anderson said. “Sometimes, the game just doesn’t go in your favor.”

The scoring trends continued to prove fatal for the Gophers.

But Sunday, they at least wouldn’t go down without a fight.

Trailing 7-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, the Gophers got their first two batters on base before Matt Fornasiere blasted a three-run home run into the upper deck in right field.

Still with nobody out and the score now 7-6, the Gophers had runners on first and second. But Jake Elder, John Arlt and Dan Thompson went 1-2-3 to end the comeback and the game.

The Knights scored first in every game on their way to a series sweep of the Gophers, improving their record to 9-7.

“When you score first, you’re able to put the pressure on them right away,” senior catcher Elder said. “Then, you can play a bit more relaxed.”

innesota’s sluggish 4-10 start matches its 2002 record through 14 games, when it came back to finish the season 32-26 and win the Big Ten regular season title.

The Gophers said they are optimistic they can turn their season around again, as long as they can either score first or learn how to mount a comeback.

“Sometimes, it’s just too tough when you put yourself in the position of having to play from behind,” Elder said.

The comeback might be an obstacle the Gophers want to avoid, but Sunday’s ninth-inning rally showed the team it has what it takes to mount one.

“Today, we showed that we have the ability to come back,” third baseman David Hrncirik said. “We were just one hit away from turning this one into a win. We’re just going to take it step by step.”