Despite missing tournament, Gophers satisfied with season

Minnesota finished with an 18-5 away record, but went 17-14 at home.

Pitcher Lucas Gilbreath throws pitches at Siebert Field on April 17, 2016.

Sam Harper, Daily File Photo

Pitcher Lucas Gilbreath throws pitches at Siebert Field on April 17, 2016.

Jack Warrick

The Gophers baseball team ended its 36-victory season last week after a loss to the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

Minnesota finished the season third in the Big Ten, with a 15-8 conference record, and missed the NCAA Tournament.

“I think if you would have told me at the start of the year that we would have 36 wins and go right down to the last game of the year for the Big Ten Championship, I would’ve taken it,” said assistant head coach Rob Fornasiere.

Minnesota won 18 of 23 away games. At home, the Gophers could not match that record, finishing 17-14.

“We played some of the stronger teams in the league at home,” said head coach John Anderson. “We don’t play a lot at Siebert Field and I think sometimes the kids get a little too excited.”

Minnesota set the tempo early in the year, starting off 8-0 in conference play, with two three-game series sweeps at Ohio State and Michigan State.

After losing four consecutive games in March, the Gophers pulled off a 12-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 85-29 in that period.

“That was fun, we were playing our best baseball,” said third baseman Micah Coffey. “It’s easy to play free and have fun.”

With Minnesota having the No. 82 RPI in the nation, winning the Big Ten tournament seemed the only way the Gophers could make it to the NCAA Regional Tournament.

Pitcher Tim Shannon turned himself into a side-arm throwing pitcher over the summer to give the Gophers a mix to their pitching. Pitcher Brian Glowicki picked up 16 saves for his team, a new program record for the Gophers.

Junior Luke Pettersen led the team’s offense with a .354 batting average. Junior Toby Hanson led the team in RBIs, batting in 57 runners over the course of the year.

Redshirt freshman Jordan Kozicky was voted MVP by his teammates and coaches, playing wherever the Gophers needed him, outfield and infield.

“I stepped in when our third baseman [Micah Coffey] got hurt,” Kozicky said. “Week by week, I was playing as if it was going to be my last starting role.”

The Gophers graduated eight players this year. Additionally, the MLB draft falls on June 12.

“We’re just waiting on the draft to see what happens,” said Fornasiere. “If it breaks right for us we certainly could have a lot of people come back and have an outstanding ball club next year.”

But to make up for the pitching staff leaving the program this year, the Gopher’s 2017-2018 class of freshmen has seven pitchers of the nine players coming in.

Now, the season is done for the Gophers, and players will be headed off to play summer ball in various leagues around the country with 13 members of the team going to the Northwoods League and three going to the Cape Cod League.

“Everyone’s got their own plan, everyone does it differently,” Hanson said. “But they know that they need to be ready here, have a productive summer and get ready to get after it.”