No. 6 Florida State knocks off Gophers

Heisman Trophy winner and closer Jameis Winston did not play.

Minnesota second baseman Connor Schaefbauer bats against Michigan State on Saturday March 29, at Siebert Field.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Minnesota second baseman Connor Schaefbauer bats against Michigan State on Saturday March 29, at Siebert Field.

Betsy Helfand

Florida State was ranked sixth in the nation as it entered its series with Minnesota, and the Gophers found out why firsthand over the weekend.

The Gophers fell in all three games in Tallahassee, Fla., losing a Saturday doubleheader 5-4 and 3-2, then dropping the final game 7-1 on Sunday.

Minnesota second baseman Connor Schaefbauer said this weekend served as a good opportunity for his team to play against a team getting national attention.

“We [played] very well,” he said. “A couple plays here and there could have changed the series and results in our favor.”

Gophers head coach John Anderson said the team was disappointed, but playing against Florida State was still good for the team as a whole.

“I like to play good competition because it exposes your weaknesses,” Anderson said. “It’s a good opportunity for them to get a sense of what it takes if [they] want to play at a high level.”

Minnesota looked poised to grab the first game of the series after battling back to take the lead in the ninth inning.

Florida State closer and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston didn’t pitch in the series. He was serving a suspension after allegedly shoplifting crab legs from a grocery store last week. In his place, Gage Smith gave up three runs while recording just two outs in the ninth.

In the bottom of the ninth, though, Gophers closer Dalton Sawyer squandered the lead, surrendering two runs to take the loss.

Minnesota and Florida State were forced to play a doubleheader Saturday after Friday’s game was postponed due to rain and poor field conditions. That left the Gophers with very little time to process the first loss.

Minnesota lost the second game of the series in similar fashion, leaving two runners on base in its final at-bat.

Gophers center fielder Dan Motl said the team was “a little down” after the dramatic loss in the first game, but he said this weekend showed his team “can play with anybody in the country.”

“They’re a very good team, and we had to play our best in order to beat them,” Motl said. “We were in those first two games the whole time and had a chance to close them out and win them.”

On Sunday, the Gophers left the bases loaded in the second and third innings, and they couldn’t come up with a key hit when they needed it.

“[Florida State was] able to execute … a little more consistently and get the big hit,” Anderson said. “They got a lot of hits with two strikes.”

Minnesota senior Dan Olinger had an RBI single in the third inning, but the Seminoles erased that lead in the bottom of the inning with a three-run rally.

Minnesota’s bullpen gave up four runs Sunday, and Anderson said the team’s lack of playing opportunities has hurt the development of its pitching staff.

The Gophers haven’t played a midweek game since April 15 because of the poor weather in Minneapolis.

Anderson said the team as a whole needs more experience, but he said this weekend was a good opportunity for the team to learn about itself.

That’s important for the team as it heads into its final two weekends ofconference play seeking a Big Ten tournament berth.

“[This weekend] was a good challenge,” Schaefbauer said, “and something the team wanted and needed.”