The middle of the Gophers lineup helped slug the team to another victory Wednesday with the wind at its back.
Minnesota (29-13, 11-3 Big Ten) defeated Kansas 12-7 at Siebert Field, completing a two-game series sweep after a 19-7 victory Tuesday.
Much of the team’s offense came from the middle of its order in juniors Matt Fiedler and Austin Athmann and sophomore Toby Hanson. The trio was 8-12 at the plate on the day, with two walks, two home runs, six RBIs and six runs scored.
The group is now batting a combined .380 on the season.
“I think that the strength of us three is that [teams] want to pitch to us because they know there are just as good of hitters down in the lineup,” Fiedler said. “You’re not getting as tough of pitches because they don’t want to put you on and face the guys down there.”
The Gophers totaled 18 hits in the game, with the first two coming from Fiedler and Athmann. Fiedler singled in the first inning, and Athmann hit a home run for the third game in a row to score them both.
The catcher now has 11 home runs on the year, the most for a Minnesota player since 2010.
“That’s what we thought we had when we recruited him,” head coach John Anderson said. “We probably would have seen it a lot sooner if he hadn’t been away from the field so much because of his injuries.”
Athmann, Fiedler and Hanson all also reached base in the second inning as part of a seven-run frame for the Gophers.
Five of Minnesota’s first six batters recorded a hit in the inning, including senior Connor Schaefbauer, who hit his fourth home run of the year. The seven runs were tied for the most the Gophers have scored in an inning this year and put the team up 9-3.
The Jayhawks put up another three runs in the third inning to cut into their deficit and take starting pitcher Tyler Hanson out of the game.
Tyler Hanson, making his first start since being pulled from the Gophers weekend rotation in March, allowed two earned runs and five runs total off of six hits and two innings.
“I didn’t think [Tyler Hanson] had his best stuff today, his best command. He was up in the zone some,” Anderson said. “I don’t think we helped him much on defense, so it’s hard to evaluate his outing.”
Kansas scored another run in the top of the fourth, during which the game was delayed about 20 minutes due to an injury to the home plate umpire.
Both offenses slowed down after the break until Fiedler hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 11-7. He added an RBI groundout in the eighth. In the top of the ninth, redshirt senior Jordan Jess ended the game with two innings of perfect relief.
The two-game series served as a tune-up for the Gophers before their home series against Indiana this weekend. The Hoosiers (26-16, 11-4 Big Ten) are a half-game behind Minnesota at the top of the Big Ten standings.
“It’s a big series for us. We’re excited,” Toby Hanson said. “Hopefully, we can just keep taking care of business like we have been all year.”