The irony of playing the song “It’s a beautiful day for a ball game” prior to Wednesday night’s baseball game at Siebert Field was simple; it wasn’t.
First, there was the cold and rainy weather that bundled players and fans.
Then there was the starting pitching of Minnesota’s Chadd Clarey, who spotted Minnesota State-Mankato a 7-0 lead by the end of the second.
Last, there was the seven-inning, one-hit effort by Mavericks pitcher Tim Tutko, who shut the Gophers’ bats down.
The result, a 11-5 Minnesota loss, wasn’t beautiful at all.
“You can blame me for playing the game if you want to blame anybody,” Minnesota coach John Anderson said, reffering to the decision to play the game in the bad weather. “And unfortunately it wasn’t a good night for us.”
It wasn’t good weather, and it wasn’t a good performance.
For the second straight game, Clarey lasted 1 2/3 innings and gave up a touchdown and an extra point.
He had almost the identical line against Northwestern in Evanston on Saturday.
“He hasn’t had the command, or been able to repeat pitches in the strike zone,” Anderson said. “He’s struggling right now, and his location is all over the place.”
In the other dugout was Tutko, who allowed a hit to Gophers shortstop Rick Brosseau in the first, the only one he gave up on the day.
“He threw strikes, and that’s all you have to do,” Brosseau said. “He challenged the hitters and I give him credit.”
Anderson gave credit to Tutko for changing speeds and locating his three pitches over the plate.
But Anderson said ultimately, the Gophers can only blame themselves.
“When you give up seven runs in the first two innings, and put ourselves in a hole, it’s hard to dig it out,” he said. “It made (Tutko’s) job a little easier to pitch and gamble the way he did at times with the count because he had a seven run lead.”
The Gophers tried for a rally late. A run in both the sixth and eighth innings finally put something other than a doughnut on the board.
Minnesota would then tack on three in the ninth off of Minnesota State’s relievers. The highlight was sophomore Paul Hartmann’s first career home run.
But that was it.
Fittingly, a sloppy game on a dreary night ended when Minnesota’s Luke Appert was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a wild pitch.
A wild pitch on an ugly day for baseball.
John R. Carter covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected]