Offense comes alive after 2 losses

The Gophers struggled to produce against Michigan State but pulled out Game 3.

Aleutian Calabay

It proved to be better late than never for the Minnesota baseball team against Michigan State this weekend. The Gophers entered SundayâÄôs series finale having already lost the first two games by scores of 5-3 and 12-5. The Spartans appeared poised for the sweep Sunday at the Metrodome holding a late 3-2 lead, but the Gophers came back to score four runs in the eighth inning, highlighted by a two-run double by Kyle Knudson to win the game 6-3. âÄúYou have to give Michigan State credit,âÄù Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. âÄúThey executed the fundamentals of the game all weekend long, and thatâÄôs why they won the series.âÄù With the exception of SundayâÄôs ending, timely hits eluded the Minnesota batters throughout the series and, consequently, so did the wins. The Gophers have struggled most of the season with bringing runners home, but they entered the series on a three-game winning streak, averaging 11 runs per game over that stretch. However, Minnesota left a total of 25 runners stranded on the bases and hit into four double plays. The Gophers were outscored 20-14 despite out-hitting the Spartans 35-29. âÄúWeâÄôve had some hits, but we couldnâÄôt get an extra-base hit,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúItâÄôs been typical of our season to get three hits but score one run.âÄù Michigan State grabbed an early lead in the first game of the series as Torsten Boss hit a two-run double in the top of the second inning, once again forcing Minnesota to play from behind as they often have all season. The Gophers squandered scoring threats in the second and third innings, but finally broke through in the sixth when a Matt Puhl RBI single got Minnesota on the board. Then with the bases loaded, Trip Schultz knocked in two more runs with his third hit of the day, giving Minnesota a 3-2 advantage. The lead did not last long as the Spartans came back to score three runs in the seventh inning off Minnesota starter Seth Rosin. The inning was capped by a two-run home run by Eli Boike, which gave Michigan State a 5-3 lead. The Spartans bullpen came in and closed the door on the Gophers. Rosin finished the day throwing seven innings, giving up five runs on ten hits while striking out six. Michael Kvasnicka came through early for the Gophers in Game 2 as his RBI double in the first inning gave Minnesota a quick 1-0 lead. Once again the Spartans would bounce right back as they knocked around GophersâÄô starter TJ Oakes for three runs in the second inning and two more in the third. The Gophers closed the gap to 5-3 with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third inning, but continued to leave runners on base as the game progressed. Meanwhile, the Spartans offense continued to produce as they scored one run in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Michigan State ended the game with three runs in the ninth as it cruised to the 12-5 win. Game 3 remained scoreless until the top of the fifth inning as Michigan State got a run off an RBI double by Jordan Keur. The Spartans manufactured another run in the sixth off a sacrifice fly by Jeff Holm to take a 2-0 lead. The Gophers finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh inning as Troy Larson delivered a two-run single to tie the game. Minnesota went to the bullpen after starter Phil Isaksson walked the first batter of the eighth inning. But reliever Scott Matyas gave up an RBI single to Holm, giving Michigan State a 3-2 lead. Isaksson finished the game giving up three runs on just three hits while striking out four. The Gophers finally got the timely hit they had been looking for all series as Knudson smashed a double to left field that scored AJ Pettersen and Kvasnicka. Knudson was then brought home on a double by Nick OâÄôShea. The hits continued to come for Minnesota as Kyle Geason singled home OâÄôShea to give the Gophers a 6-3 lead. Matyas then closed the game in the ninth for Minnesota. âÄúWe need to try to get some extra base hits and move the guys around the bases,âÄù Knudson said. âÄúIt seems like when we are getting hits theyâÄôre just singles, but weâÄôre improving every game and IâÄôll think weâÄôll be right there when we need to be.âÄù