Minnesota baseball team reaches regional final

John Hageman

The night after upsetting top-seeded Cal-State Fullerton, the Minnesota baseball team defeated New Mexico 6-4 in ten innings in Fullerton, Calif. late Saturday night and needs one more win reach the NCAA super regionals. They will face the winner of New Mexico and Cal-State Fullerton Sunday night at 10 p.m. Should the Gophers lose that game, there will be a winner-take-all game Monday at 8 p.m.

Taking the hill for the Gophers Saturday was freshman TJ Oakes, who, after struggling in the early innings, settled down to go for seven innings with two earned runs allowed. 

The Lobos got on the board first, but at a price. With runners on first and second in the first inning, New Mexico’s Ryan Honeycutt doubled to right and sent in a run. Justin Howard attempted to add a run, but the Gophers threw him out at the plate. Howard was injured after a nasty collision with Gophers catcher Kyle Knudson and would not return to the game. Howard was second in the nation with a .455 batting average.

The Gophers went into the fourth inning down 3-0 until Knudson launched a solo shot to left field to put the score at 3-1. Kyle Geason’s sacrifice fly to center field would send Nick O’Shea home and the score at 3-2 in favor of New Mexico.

After Troy Larson reached on bunt down the left-field line to lead off the seventh inning, Michael Kvasnikca doubled to bring in the tying run. After New Mexico went up 4-3 in the bottom half of the seventh, the Gophers tied up the game on a balk by the Lobos’ Richard Olson in the top of the eighth to put the score at 4-4. 

After a quick ninth inning, the Gophers strung together four hits in a row to take the lead 6-4 going into the bottom half of the tenth inning. Minnesota closer Scott Matyas tallied eight straight strikeouts to end the game.