U pitcher surprised by Big Ten honor

by Sarah Mitchell

Gophers pitcher Chadd Clarey wasn’t pleased with his outing Sunday, citing three walks through six innings as a bit of a disappointment.
The Big Ten, however, deemed his performance against Northwestern exceptional. Clarey was awarded Big Ten pitcher of the week on Monday.
“I’m just surprised,” Clarey said. “I didn’t feel that I had my best. I felt a bit wild and didn’t really feel like I was hitting my spot.”
Clarey pitched a six-inning shutout in the Gophers’ 7-0 defeat of Northwestern to give Minnesota (39-12 overall, 19-5 in the Big Ten) a four-game sweep over the Wildcats. The junior allowed just four hits while striking out one in the shutout and now has a 12-inning scoreless streak.
By receiving the honor, Clarey (6-1) became the fourth Gopher to be recognized by the Big Ten this season. Seniors Aron Amundson and Robb Quinlan both earned Big Ten player of the week, while junior Matt Scanlon took the honor twice.
“It’s real nice to get the award,” Clarey said. “I guess I’m still surprised.”

Guessing Game
With one week of the regular season remaining, the Big Ten tournament brackets are beginning to take shape. By sweeping the Wildcats this weekend, Minnesota guaranteed itself a spot in the four-team playoff.
The Gophers are assured a second seed behind conference-leading Ohio State. The Buckeyes have a three-game edge, something Minnesota hasn’t been able to directly control. Ohio State is one of the two conference teams the Gophers don’t play this season.
“We don’t play them head-to-head, so it is frustrating,” pitcher Mike Kobow said. “All we can do is win our games.”
Michigan (27-3, 14-9) and Indiana (34-14, 12-1) are second and third, respectively. After winning the regular season title last season and falling one game short of the NCAA tournament, Illinois (29-20, 12-12) is in danger of ending the 1999 season early. The Illini are fifth.
“It doesn’t really matter whether you get the first seed, second seed, third or fourth. You just have to play your game,” Clarey said. “Now that we’re in, we just have to remain focused and get everybody healthy.

New look for Scanlon
The team’s starting third baseman a year ago, Scanlon has assumed the more general role of infielder this season. With the addition of true freshman Jack Hannahan, the strong-armed Scanlon has been given opportunities to be a second baseman.
“You have more time to bobble the ball,” Scanlon joked. “I like it.”
Minnesota has benefitted from the change. The Gophers are 21-4 when Scanlon starts at second base.

Around the horn
ù Senior Brad Pautz is among the Big Ten’s winningest pitchers. The right-hander has an 8-2 record, second only to Ohio State’s Justin Fry (8-1).
ù Two Gophers top the Big Ten in individual batting. Quinlan leads the list with a .435 batting average while Amundson is second at .411. Quinlan also leads the conference in hits (90) and total bases (157), and is tied for runs scored (61) with the Buckeyes’ Mike Lockwood and with Scanlon for runs batted in (67).