Baseball final: Minnesota 16, Illinois State 3

Austin Cumblad

We’re back at the Metrodome for the Gophers’ opening game in the aptly named Metrodome Tournament.  Tonight’s opponent, Illinois State, enters the game 2-3.  Head coach John Anderson has shaken up Minnesota’s lineup again tonight, sliding Eric Decker into the two spot and shifting AJ Pettersen to seventh, where Decker has been for the majority of this season.  Trip Schultz, who has made several pinch hitting appearances this year, replaces Jon Hummel in the outfield as he will start in right.  And with that, here are the starting lineups:

Minnesota starting pitcher – RHP Chauncy Handran, 1-1, 4.50 ERA
Illinois State starting pitcher – RHP Ryan Camp, 0-0, 7.71 ERA

Minnesota starting lineup
1) DH Matt Nohelty
2) CF Eric Decker
3) 2B Derek McCallum
4) Michael Kvasnicka
5) C Kyle Knudson
6) 1B Nick O’Shea
7) SS AJ Pettersen
8) RF Trip Schultz
9) 3B Kyle Geason

Illinois State starting lineup
1) SS Collin Salzenstein
2) CF Tyler Mcneely
3) 2B Mike Stalowy
4) RF Corey Maines
5) LF Anthony Ruffolo
6) DH Gabe Demarco
7) 1B Evan Kohli
8) C Matt Mirabal
9) 3B Ryan Court

Illinois State starter Ryan Camp had a rough start to his day on the mound. He got no help from his defense, which committed two errors in the first two innings, but those errors coupled with a trio of wild pitches staked the Gophers three quick unearned runs. In the first, Camp seemed more concerned with Minnesota’s base runners than its hitters. After center fielder Eric Decker flashed his speed by chasing down a deep fly ball in the top of the inning and stealing second in the bottom, Camp spent more time looking Decker off at second than focusing on home plate. It led to a wild pitch and Decker scampering to third; he’d score on a Derek McCallum single. But Camp’s paranoia about the Gophers’ base running was warranted. On third after another wild pitch, sophomore left fielder Michael Kvasnicka crept halfway down the line after a pitch, then broke for home as Redbirds catcher Matt Mirabal lobbed the ball back to Camp. The play at the plate wasn’t even close. Camp settled down, but Illinois State’s porous defense continued. With the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth, McCallum hit a sharp ground ball directly at Redbirds’ first baseman Evan Kohli, but it squirted through his legs, clearing the bases. In the fifth and errant pick-off throw from Mirabal to Kohli brought around Knudson. An 8-0 lead with only one earned run. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s defense was airtight. The infield was a vacuum for any ball hit on the ground, while Decker tracked down anything Illinois State connected with. Combined with a solid outing from right-hander Chauncy Handran, his second in as many starts, the Gophers remained untouched on the scoreboard through five. The Redbirds’ bats came alive in the top of the sixth and they scored two runs on two hits. But Minnesota answered in a big way. The Gophers brought four runners across the plate in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Nick O’Shea’s bases-clearing, three RBI double. Minnesota added another four runs in the seventh to extend its lead to 16-2. Righty reliever Scott Fern allowed a run in the top of the 9th, but that’s the ballgame, Gophers win 16-3.