Gophers sweep three games in Iowa

Minnesota scored 36 runs over the weekend, including a 19-7 win on Sunday.

Aaron Blake

Rain might have delayed the game between Minnesota’s baseball team and Iowa over the weekend, but it couldn’t dampen the momentum the Gophers had accumulated offensively.

Minnesota won the Iowa Cubs/Hawkeye Classic in Des Moines, Iowa, thanks to a trio of victories polished off by an offensive barrage on Sunday.

“I was encouraged,” Gophers coach John Anderson said. “I saw better at-bats, and we got more hits with two outs and two strikes. We were able to extend some innings. We’re making some progress.”

After taking a 5-4, 11-inning victory from Northern Illinois on Friday, the Gophers got an inconsistent offense rolling against the Hawkeyes on Saturday.

Minnesota and Iowa finished five innings Saturday before the game was postponed. The Gophers brought an 11-7 lead into Sunday’s conclusion, and they downed the Hawkeyes 19-7 after beating Northern Colorado 12-6 earlier in the afternoon.

The Gophers (10-8) got big offensive contributions from shortstop Matt Fornasiere, catcher Jake Elder and first-baseman Mike Mee on their way to the 36-run weekend.

Fornasiere’s seventh-inning grand slam against the Hawkeyes (5-12) iced the tournament for Minnesota, and he also pinch hit with a game-winning at-bat Friday.

He was supposed to be limited in his action this weekend because of tendonitis in his shoulder. But Fornasiere ended up going 7-for-9 with seven RBIs.

“It was a little bit of rehab and a little bit of rest,” Fornasiere said. “It turned out to be mostly just a shoulder strain, and rehabilitation took care of that.”

Elder had a career-high four RBIs in the five innings played Saturday against Iowa. He finished the weekend with five RBIs – three more than he’d had all season.

Mee, a redshirt freshman, continued to impress in the third spot in the lineup, going 5-for-11 on Saturday and Sunday with six RBIs.

True freshman Cole DeVries pitched three scoreless innings Sunday against Iowa to earn his second win of the season. Craig Molldrem started the game Saturday, allowing two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings before a one-hour delay.

Starter Matt Loberg earned the win against the Bears (17-11) earlier Sunday, allowing four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. Glen Perkins, last year’s Big Ten freshman of the year, put in a solid performance Friday versus the Huskies (12-9) with nine strikeouts and two earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.

But the pitching performances could only complement the Gophers’ offensive output.

“We kind of put a few things together this weekend on the offensive side,” center fielder Sam Steidl said. “That’s one thing we’ve been struggling doing. We were looking to be a little more aggressive at the plate, and trying to get everyone to have good at-bats, and score some runs.”

On the injury front

Catcher Gary Dick is still bothered by a finger he hurt in the fifth game of the season, but he was able to pinch hit in each game Sunday.

Third-baseman David Hrncirik was hit on the elbow by a pitch against Iowa on Saturday and left the game. He returned Sunday against Northern Colorado.