Gophers baseball looking for answers after 2-6 start
John Anderson has seen many ups and downs in his 40 years as the Gophers baseball boss. The latest is trying to get his team back on track after a 2-6 start to the season.
"It’s a work in progress. (Pitcher) Ryan Duffy had a blurp against Illinois this past weekend. Josh Culliver is back after Tommy John Surgery from a year ago. Right now we just have to get our starting pitching figured out, including pitch counts this past weekend. We’ve got other pitchers we didn’t want out there yet, and there are some guys who are at different points of their development. This will be a more traditional weekend with Northwestern coming in here," said Gophers head coach John Anderson.
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One of the players that’s a definite bright spot is junior infielder Zack Raabe. Raabe, a Forest Lake native, is leading the team in hitting at .571, which includes four home runs and six runs batted in.
"Guys that are older lead the team. I try to just look no further than the next at-bat. I try to help everyone else get back in the groove again. I try to help the younger guys get into the swing of things again," said Raabe.
Sophomore starting pitcher Sam Ireland is a dual-threat for the Gophers. When Ireland isn’t on the mound, he’s asked to use his bat to drive in runs, which is something Anderson is relying on this season.
"Sam (Ireland) has proved he can hit and be an R.B.I. guy, so you’ll see Sam in the 4 or 5 spot and get more at-bats. I think if we’re going to improve our hitting, he’ll be in the center of the lineup. He’s a guy who has some power and who can do some damage helping us score runs. Sam’s development in the lineup physically has improved a lot," Anderson added.
The Gophers will take on Northwestern for a three-game set at U.S. Bank Stadium. Game one is Saturday at 6 p.m.