It was another weekend of learning for the Gophers baseball team, according to what head coach John Anderson says about the early non-conference schedule.
After finishing last season with a 44-15 record, Minnesota has started 2-8 in three weekends of baseball.
Minnesota suffered its first sweep of the season to No. 23 North Carolina State (11-0), after the Wolfpack came back from a 4-2 deficit in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday in Raleigh, North Carolina to complete the three-game sweep with a 5-4 victory.
"[NC State] just played the game solid, all the way around like good teams do," said Gophers outfielder Ben Mezzenga, who led the team with five hits over the weekend. "Knowing what a good team they are, we knew we couldn't make many mistakes, and at the end of the day I think we did really well, but we just made more mistakes than them, and they capitalized."
In the final game, Gophers pitcher Nolan Burchill came out of the bullpen with a 4-2 lead, no outs and runners on first and second base. Then, a wild pitch moved them up, a sacrifice fly scored one, a double scored the other and NC State's Brad Debo hit a walk-off single down the right field line to win 5-4 and complete the sweep. Burchill missed all of last season recovering from surgery.
"It's probably not a situation where we want to use Nolan, but that was the next best option that we had," said Anderson. "It's going to take him a good bit of time to get his feet back on the ground, but he's not going to get there unless we put him in the game."
The Gophers played a double-header against the Wolfpack on Saturday following rainy weather conditions on Friday. Gophers starting pitcher Patrick Fredrickson allowed three runs in the fourth inning to get into a 3-0 deficit. The Gophers offense picked up with an RBI double from Jack Wassel in the top of the sixth, and a solo home run from Cole McDevitt in the seventh. However, they couldn't get the tying run despite these efforts, and Minnesota lost the first game 3-2.
In the second game of the double-header, Gophers pitcher Sam Thoresen allowed six runs in the bottom of the first inning, including a grand slam from NC State's Vojtech Mensik to make it 6-0. McDevitt hit another home run in the game and Zack Raabe hit a two-run double in the top of the ninth, but it wasn't enough and the Gophers dropped the second game 8-4.
Minnesota has needed to deal with the loss of top bats from last season — Terrin Vavra, Luke Pettersen, Toby Hanson and Micah Coffey — who all batted in the top eight on the team last season. Three of these players were starters in the infield as well. Twenty-four of the 35 players on the current roster are underclassmen.
"I think guys who have been around college baseball understand that you got young guys, you got old guys, and the baseball season is so long that you're a totally different team the way you start the year then when you end it," McDevitt said.
The Gophers will play Oregon State, San Diego and Washington in the Seattle Baseball Showcase at T-Mobile Stadium starting Friday in Seattle, Washington. Minnesota lost to defending NCAA champion Oregon State (10-1) in the first weekend of the season 13-1.