Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

50° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Cats shine then fade at home vs. Gophs

The Northwestern baseball team struggled with its hitting Friday and struggled with its fielding Sunday — but showed a glimpse of how good it could be in a Saturday doubleheader against Minnesota.

Sandwiched between a 4-1 loss Friday and a 12-5 shellacking Sunday, NU beat Minnesota 4-2 and 8-2 Saturday. And the Cats (18-17, 4-8 Big Ten) did little wrong in the wins, putting runs on the board and getting dominant pitching performances from sophomore Gabe Ribas and senior Dan Padgett.

Although the Cats were hoping for even better weekend results, they were satisfied with a split against a Big Ten powerhouse.

“Minnesota’s a really good team,” Ribas said. “Obviously after (Saturday) we wanted to go 3-1, but we’re going to be satisfied with 2-2.”

The Cats seemed to play every possible way against Minnesota (22-15, 8-4). Their bats were silent Friday and booming Saturday. Their hurlers were untouchable Saturday and, well, touchable Sunday. Their gloves made just one error in 14 innings Saturday but committed four in six innings Sunday.

However, the Cats are confident they showed their true selves in the doubleheader. Padgett said the level of opponent made the victories all the sweeter.

“(Saturday) was a great day, especially the way things have been going,” Padgett said. “It’s a big confidence boost for everybody, especially against Minnesota, who we haven’t beat more than once in a series since I’ve been here.”

NU got its two wins because its hitters played as well as the pitchers have all season. The Cats have been getting hits frequently, but leaving runners on base. Over the weekend, that changed.

The Cats scored four runs on eight hits in Saturday’s first game, eight runs on 10 hits in the second game and five runs on eight hits Sunday. For the first time in a long time, NU’s offense was efficient.

“You really just saw the confidence go up in our hitters,” Ribas said. “We went from leaving like 15 guys on base to leaving about three or four. When you get offensive support, it just makes your life so much easier.”

In Saturday’s second game, the Cats knocked in seven runs in the first two innings, and Padgett cruised to a seven-inning complete game gem.

He blanked the Gophers for six innings before allowing two runs in the seventh. He allowed only five hits and struck out six batters.

“Oh God, that (offensive burst) makes things so much easier,” Padgett said. “You know if you go out and give up a solo home run it’s not that big a deal. You can’t coast, but a lot of the extra pressure is off.”

That pressure returned Sunday, when the Gophers scored four unearned runs off NU starter J.J. Standring in the first inning. The Cats, who made four errors, were done in all day by defensive lapses. Of Minnesota’s 12 runs, only six were earned.

“Every now and then that’s going to happen,” Ribas said. “We’re just going to shake those off.”

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Cats shine then fade at home vs. Gophs