Gophers baseball completes up and down series against Northwestern

Inconsistent hitting was too much for Minnesota to overcome, as a 1-2 series puts the team at 3-8 for the season.

Gopher+Batter+Jack+Wassel+follows+through+his+swing+in+U.S.+Bank+Stadium+on+Sunday%2C+March+7.+The+Gophers+lost+to+Indiana%2C+8-1.

Audrey Rauth

Gopher Batter Jack Wassel follows through his swing in U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, March 7. The Gophers lost to Indiana, 8-1.

Tony Liebert

Minnesota hosted Northwestern in a three-game series at U.S. Bank over the weekend, and the Gophers showed flashes of consistency, winning one of three games to move to 3-8 for the season.

Ireland’s strong showing not enough on Saturday

The Gophers weekend series began with Sam Ireland on the mound for a 6 p.m. first pitch Saturday. The right-handed-pitcher brought his A-game, dealing 10 strikeouts, with only four hits and one walk in seven innings en route to allowing only two runs.

“My whole goal is just to give the team a chance to win,” Ireland said. “After the first inning, it kind of lit a fire under me. I had to figure out what was working and what was not working, and trying to just find a way to get outs. Doing anything I can to help the team win.”

Despite Ireland’s strong showing, the Gophers couldn’t pull off the win in their first game of the series, falling 4-3 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Offensively, it was a home run barrage for both teams. Northwestern got the party started with a two-run shot early in the first inning, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead.

Freshman Cody Kelly answered with his first career home run, a two-run shot in the fifth inning, knotting the game at two. The hot night at the plate continued for Kelly, as a solo home run in the eighth inning gave him his second of the day and the Gophers a 3-2 lead.

As Ireland departed the mound in the eighth inning, Northwestern took advantage with back-to-back solo home runs on redshirt-senior reliever Tom Skoro, giving the lead back to the Wildcats 4-3.

Wildcats score 10 unanswered Sunday

Redshirt sophomore Jack Liffrig took the mound for Sunday’s 1 p.m. start. After getting out of a first-inning jam, the left-handed pitcher was great out of the gate, tossing four shutout innings.

The Gophers’ offense took advantage. A two-run single from Ronald Sweeny gave them a 2-0 lead in the second inning. As Ireland found success at the plate, the momentum rolled on this time with an RBI single, extending the Gophers’ lead to 3-0 after the fourth inning.

It began to unravel for Liffrig on the mound. After allowing one run in the fifth, it snowballed in the sixth, as he gave up two more earned runs, ending his day with four strikeouts and three walks in five innings.

“We got out of a tough first inning situation and got a big double play, and got some momentum from that,” Gophers head coach John Anderson said. “But, it seems like when it rains, it pours. It’s everything. It’s not one thing. It’s just the little things that you probably don’t notice on the stat sheet that happen during the course of the game. Again, we just need to get a little bit smarter… We’ll keep grinding through this.”

It only got worse. Three runs turned into 10 unanswered runs from Northwestern, which was too much for the Gophers to overcome, as they fell 10-3.

Gophers end series strong Monday

It was a bit of a bullpen start for the Gophers Monday, as they used a handful of arms for their series finale. Sophomore Trent Schoerbel got the party started with 2.2 shutout innings. That helped the Gophers start strong en route to a 7-3 win at US Bank Stadium.

Minnesota’s bats were hot as the day began. Chase Stanke started with an RBI single in the first, and Jack Kelly added a sacrifice fly in the second, giving the Gophers an early 2-0 lead.

As Nolan Burchill took over for Schoerbel, things began to go south. The redshirt senior tossed one shutout inning in the fourth but then allowed three earned runs in the fifth, giving a 3-2 lead to the Wildcats.

This time, the Gophers were able to overcome their deficit. Senior Patrick Fredrickson threw three shutout innings with four strikeouts.

Jack Kelly’s hot day from the plate continued in the sixth inning. A two-run single from the senior outfielder helped the Gophers regain a 4-3 lead. For good measure, two more runs in the eighth inning secured the victory.

Minnesota completed its series with Northwestern winning one of three games. The Gophers’ time at U.S. Bank stadium is likely over, and they will now travel to Lincoln, Nebraska, for a four-game series next weekend with the Cornhuskers.