When coaches talk about inconsistency, theyâÄôre typically referring to players failing to execute routine plays.
When Gophers baseball head coach John Anderson talks about inconsistency, he means his teamâÄôs early-season rash of postponed and canceled games.
Minnesota (8-8) went 1-1 in a weekend series with Cal Poly, dropping FridayâÄôs game 5-1 but winning 9-4 Sunday. In between, SaturdayâÄôs game was canceled due to rain, making it the GophersâÄô fourth canceled game in the past two weeks.
After mustering just three hits Friday and sitting around for 12 hours Saturday before the cancelation, the GophersâÄô offense broke out in a big way Sunday, scoring nine runs on 16 hits.
With a single in the second inning Sunday, AJ Pettersen kept his hitting streak alive, finishing with two singles, two walks, a stolen base and four runs scored. The leadoff hitterâÄôs streak stands at 19 games dating back to 2010, and he has reached base safely in every game this season.
âÄúIâÄôm just trying to stay consistent more than anything,âÄù Pettersen said. âÄúLast year I was kind of up and down, and this year I try to get at least one knock a game and so far it has kind of panned out for me.âÄù
After the second inning single, Pettersen safely stole second base and later scored on Trip SchultzâÄôs RBI base hit.
Schultz had four RBIs on the day and was a key contributor for Minnesota on Sunday.
Another major contributor for the Gophers on Sunday was outfielder Justin Gominsky. The junior went 4-for-4 with a walk to help pace MinnesotaâÄôs offense that had been marred in a funk.
Pettersen said the team as a whole was more aggressive Sunday and was also able to lay off tough breaking and off-speed pitches, something that the team struggled mightily with Friday.
âÄúItâÄôs really hard to try to figure out whatâÄôs going on because there is so long in between opportunities,âÄù Anderson said. âÄúFriday it was almost like we started over at game one âÄ¦ The hardest thing to do after a long layoff is to try to time a changeup.âÄù
He added of his top performers Pettersen, Gominsky and Schultz on Sunday: âÄúThe guys we need to step forward for us are the guys that have experience. Those guys really did that today and we also used a lot of players off the bench.âÄù
Getting enough playing time to balance between regulars and bench players has been a struggle thus far, but SundayâÄôs game was a step in the right direction before the team opens Big Ten conference play Friday at Target Field.
âÄúItâÄôs tough for the hitters with timing to miss games against live pitchers. I think weâÄôll battle through it,âÄù Pettersen said. âÄúHopefully next weekend weâÄôll come ready to play.âÄù
Following the theme of the not-so-young season, SundayâÄôs game was delayed because of complications from rain. When the grounds crew was dragging the field in between the third and fourth innings, second base came loose and there was a lengthy delay.
Perhaps as a result, SundayâÄôs starter Phil Isaksson lasted only three innings before being relieved by the teamâÄôs usual Sunday starter, Austin Lubinsky.
With IsakssonâÄôs usual Saturday start getting canceled, he needed some work. Lubinsky pitched 3 1/3 innings and earned the win.
Freshman lefty Tom Windle also got 2/3 of an inning before closer Scott Matyas entered in the eighth. Matyas recorded a shutout inning, getting a flyout and two strikeouts to end the game in the eighth.
MatyasâÄô no-hit streak ended with a Cal Poly base hit in the bottom of the eighth, however. It was the first hit the closer had allowed all year.
The Gophers batted around in the seventh, scoring three runs to put the game on ice before the contest was called due to time constraints.
The teams finished eight innings but Minnesota had to catch a flight and, with delays early in the game, couldnâÄôt afford to finish.
ItâÄôs tough to peg where the Gophers stand after a start to the season that has so far been inconsistent, both in terms of schedule and on-field play.
âÄúWhat do you make of it? Which team is it?âÄù Anderson asked rhetorically of his teamâÄôs bipolar weekend of play. âÄúI donâÄôt think I can make that determination at this point.
âÄúHaving a lot of games consecutively will help you figure that out but you have to give the players credit âÄî they havenâÄôt quit on us.âÄù
Nick OâÄôShea was found to have damage to cartilage inside his ribcage, rather than an oblique muscle injury as originally believed.
The team has not yet released a timetable for the first basemanâÄôs return. Dan Olinger and Ryan Abrahamson continue to fill in for OâÄôShea, one of the GophersâÄô only true power threats.