Current Gophers defeat Pro-Alumni team 9-1 in 14th annual exhibition at Metrodome

Coach John Anderson said he was happy his pitchers were throwing strikes.

Command was the theme Saturday at the 14th annual

Pro-Alumni game at the Metrodome.

And Minnesota’s baseball team commanded the game from start to finish as it routed the Pro-Alumni team 9-1 in front of 1,796 fans.

The game, which typically serves as a fanfare event, acted as a tuneup for Minnesota, which is preparing to travel to Arkansas in three weeks to open its 2005 season.

The game started off in honorable fashion, as the 2004 Gophers were presented with their 2004 Big Ten regular season championship rings after the top half of the first inning.

After receiving his ring, senior pitcher Josh Krogman picked up the win for the Gophers, giving up one run in 2 2/3 innings of work.

Coach John Anderson said he was very pleased with his pitchers’ ability to keep the ball in the strike zone so early in the season.

“I think the most important thing is that they threw strikes,” Anderson said. “They had decent command and good stuff.”

Pitching the whole game for both teams, the Gophers pitching staff combined for 17 innings of work and gave up just five walks.

The Gophers controlled the field as well, committing no errors in the game, while the alumni gave up two unearned runs on two errors.

At the plate, it was much of the same as the Gophers pounded out 11 hits, including four from junior shortstop Matt Fornasiere.

Fornasiere went 4-for-4 with a double and three singles. He was also hit by a pitch and stole a base.

Fornasiere said he felt it was an added incentive to perform well in front of the alumni.

“It’s always great to play with your idols,” Fornasiere said.

“We played good defense and put together some nice at-bats. It’s a very good beginning to the season.”

The Gophers were streaky at the plate, scoring three runs in the second inning, one in the third and five in the sixth to immobilize the alumni team, which included a slew of major- and minor-leaguers.

Current major-leaguers, such as Dan Wilson, Jim Brower and Robb Quinlan, headlined the playing roster.

Many alumni had played in the game before as Gophers, including Los Angeles Angels prospect Quinlan.

“It was a great thrill for me when I was playing,” Quinlan said. “I hope these guys get a lot out of the experience.”

Alumni manager and 2004 Hall of Fame inductee Paul Molitor said the game is such a tremendous experience that he wished the tradition would have started earlier.

“I wish, when I was playing, that the Pro-Alumni tradition was going back then,” Molitor said. “It’s a great chance for the guys playing now to get a feel for the opportunities when they are done with their college careers.”