Baseball takes two out of three

There were no instances of Wichita State pitchers throwing at Gophers batters in the on-deck circle this weekend.
That was last year’s Shockers baseball team. Instead, Minnesota and Wichita State played clean baseball, with the Gophers taking two out of three from the 14th-ranked Shockers.
Minnesota sandwiched 17-9 and 10-8 wins around a 2-1 pitchers-dual loss on the weekend, improving its record to 7-8.
“The kids played extremely well this weekend,” Gophers coach John Anderson said. “They kept their composure.”
The Gophers easily could have become distracted with the circumstances that surrounded their trip to Kansas.
Following last year’s incident where a Shockers pitcher threw at an Evansville player who was waiting on deck, breaking three bones in his eye socket, Minnesota’s Anderson was quite vocal against the event.
“I guess I ruffled people’s feathers,” Anderson said. “But our guys focused on the present. That was impressive.”
That focus led to one of the better weekends thus far this season for the Gophers.
In the first game the Gophers pounded out 17 runs on 16 hits. The feat was something that doesn’t happen a lot to the Shockers.
“The Wichita State coach told me before (the second game) they hadn’t had 17 runs scored against them since 1986,” Anderson said. “We’ve come along on offense.”
Rightfielder Jason Kennedy is one of those guys the Gophers are getting good run production from.
Kennedy went a combined 6-for-12, with 4 RBI this weekend, something Anderson expects from the middle of the lineup.
Along with offense, Minnesota got a couple of solid outings from its pitching staff this weekend.
Kelly Werner and Andy Persby combined to scatter nine hits over eight innings in game 2, but Wichita State held the Gophers to a lone run in the Shockers win.
In game 3, Minnesota got strong starting pitching from Ben Birk over the first three innings, but Anderson said Birk started to tire early in the 4th, and began losing control on his pitches. Birk gave up four runs in four-plus innings.
Anderson said if the Gophers continued throwing strikes, the outcome might have been a 10-2 win instead of a 10-8 victory.
Minnesota heads back out on the road this weekend. This time to Omaha, Neb., to take on Creighton in a four-game series.
The next Gophers win will give Minnesota its 2000th victory in school baseball — a milestone only reached by 14 other schools.
Big Ten play starts the following week when the Gophers take on Michigan in Ann Arbor.

John R. Carter covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected]