Minnesota goes 3-0 in Homewood Suites Shootout

Sophomore Nate Hanson hit two home runs and had five RBIs.

by Tyler Rushmeyer

The Minnesota baseball team is 3-0 for the first time in nearly a decade after an impressive early-season showing this weekend.

up next

Dairy queen classic
when: 12:15 p.m. Friday
where: Metrodome

By defeating the University of North Carolina-Asheville, The Citadel and Virginia Tech in a three-day span, the Gophers took the Homewood Suites Shootout crown and head home with a full head of steam for next week’s Dairy Queen Classic.

Freshman infielder Derek McCallum, who filled in for the ill junior Jeremy Chlan over the weekend, said the team handled the transition from indoor practices to the outdoor fields of South Carolina well.

“I think we took a lot of people by surprise,” he said. “Sweeping the series gives us a good mindset for next weekend.”

Minnesota began its weekend play with a 7-5 victory over UNC-Asheville, by digging itself out of an early hole.

Down 4-0 heading in the bottom of the sixth inning, sophomore third baseman Nate Hanson came through with the first home run of his career, a three-run shot, quickly getting the Gophers back in the game.

Junior catcher Jeff DeSmidt followed with a seventh-inning solo home run to open the flood gates for three more runs, giving Minnesota a 7-4 lead it would never relinquish.

Hanson said he knew the offense had to make something happen late.

“Getting down big early, our team faced some animosity right out of the gate,” he said. “Coming back in that first contest helped our momentum for the entire weekend.”

The Gophers picked up their second victory of the weekend Saturday when they defeated The Citadel 6-3.

Minnesota got out to an early 3-0 first-inning lead, highlighted by Hanson’s second home run in as many days, a two-run shot to give him five RBIs on the weekend.

Coach John Anderson said he knew Hanson was capable of a performance like the one he put together over the weekend.

“He was injured most of the season last year,” he said. “He’s healthy now and settling in at third. We’ll need his pop this season.”

Gophers starting pitcher junior Dustin Brabender turned in an impressive 5.1-inning outing, allowing two earned runs. Brabender retired ten straight batters at one point to help Minnesota retain its advantage throughout.

The Gophers concluded their weekend with a 7-3 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday, again rallying from a late-inning deficit to complete its perfect weekend.

Virginia Tech got on the board early with three first-inning runs off sophomore pitcher Tyler Oakes. Oakes recovered to pitch five innings and pick up the win.

But he needed help from a Minnesota offense that was held scoreless through five innings and was facing a 3-0 deficit heading into the sixth inning in which the Gophers exploded for six runs.

McCallum, who went 6-for-10 from the plate over the weekend, got things rolling for Minnesota, breaking up Virginia Tech pitcher David Cross’ no-hit bid with a leadoff single.

The Gophers collected five more hits on the inning and took advantage of a Hokies’ error to put together the big inning and cap their undefeated trip.

Minnesota now heads home with a tough weekend looming as both No. 11 Ole Miss and No. 5 Arkansas visit the Metrodome.

Hanson said picking up wins over three tough opponents helps the team’s confidence level against the tougher competition they will face in a number of days.

“The competition just gets tougher,” he said. “But we know what we’re capable of.”