Despite struggles at the plate, 13 walks issued and three errors, the Minnesota baseball team still managed to provide some excitement in its 3-2 win over the alumni Saturday.
The Gophers fought back from a 2-0 deficit, driving in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to secure a win and improve their record to 8-7-1 all-time against the alumni team. It was the final alumni game ever.
The Detroit Tigers’ Jack Hannahan took part in the game, finishing with a pair of hits, a stolen base and a run scored.
“It’s always awesome to come back,” he said. “Anytime you can give something back to your school you have to take advantage of that. (Coach) John Anderson has treated us so well, it’s always an honor to come back and play.”
The alumni team got on the board early, as Hannahan singled, first baseman Dan Wilson walked and designated hitter Aron Amundson singled, loading the bases with no outs.
Alumni catcher Jake Elder drove in Hannahan with a sacrifice fly and second baseman Matt Fornasiere later walked with the bases loaded, adding to the lead.
It looked as if the alumni would be scoring at will, but Minnesota held them in check from that point on, as the alumni stranded 13 base runners.
The Gophers tied things up in the fourth, as two leadoff walks and a wild pitch put two runners in scoring position.
A groundout brought the first run home and senior right fielder Kyle Baran picked up the first hit for Minnesota, singling up the middle to tie the game.
The Gophers threatened to take the lead in the seventh, but wasted sophomore Jon Hummel’s leadoff double – just their second hit of the game.
With the score deadlocked 2-2, Minnesota’s offense came alive.
Senior outfielder Sean Kommerstad led off the bottom of the ninth, getting ahead of a Josh Oslin fastball to shoot a double down the left field line.
In a bunt situation, Oslin struck out the next hitter, and it looked as if yet another leadoff double would be wasted. But Hummel fought off a two-strike deficit, taking advantage of a fastball over the plate to drive in the winning run with a single up the middle.
“I just didn’t want to get blown away by Oz’s fastball, so I was sitting on that,” he said of the at bat. “I was off the first couple of swings, but that last pitch was in there and I hit it.”
With a few weeks left before the start of the regular season, coach John Anderson was somewhat pleased with the progress of his team.
“There were a lot of positives,” he said. “We did have some problems, but I was encouraged by what I saw from some of our pitchers on the mound. Even though we walked a lot of guys, I saw some guys that showed command of more than one pitch and that’s very encouraging for me.”