The Gophers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning of Wednesday’s matchup against South Dakota State, but they struggled on the mound and lost 13-4.
Minnesota starter Cody Campbell recorded just one out before he was yanked in favor of fellow freshman pitcher Toby Anderson.
Campbell walked three batters and hit two in his outing. He left the game with three baserunners on, all of whom wound up crossing the plate.
Anderson didn’t fare much better. He eventually got out of the first inning and then gave up four earned runs of his own in the second. Minnesota trailed 9-1 after two innings.
“I’ve learned over a long coaching career coaching … amateur players that there are going to be days like today,” head coach John Anderson said.
Campbell and Toby Anderson took 85 pitches to record five outs.
Now, John Anderson said, the focus is on building the young pitchers’ confidence and helping them grow.
“We … understand that you’ve got to keep a healthy perspective here and try to help these kids get better here and not beat them up anymore,” he said. “That game beat them up enough today.”
Gophers junior pitcher Neal Kunik was a bright spot for the pitching staff Wednesday, not allowing a hit or run in 3.1 innings pitched.
Though Kunik halted the Jackrabbits’ offense, the team never recovered from the early deficit.
Still, John Anderson said his team handled the situation well.
“I thought our kids competed and battled, but it’s a big hole that we dug for ourselves to try to get out of,” he said.
Gophers junior third baseman Tony Skjefte led the team offensively, going 3-for-4 at the dish with one run scored and another batted in. Skjefte said he feels more comfortable at the plate now than he did in past years and earlier in the season.
Minnesota replaced most of its starters near the end of the game.
“A lot of people came off the bench and had good, quality at-bats,” Skjefte said. “That’s all we’re looking for is quality at-bats, so I think the team did well.”
The Gophers will now turn their attention back to Big Ten play with an impending home series against Nebraska.
Skjefte said this loss could be used as a wake-up call for the team.
“That’s what failure is all about,” John Anderson said. “It’s an opportunity to learn and grow and try to do it better the next time. We’re going to digest it [and] take information out of the game that will help us improve and get better.”