Light delay, extras can’t stop Minnesota comeback

It took 12 innings, but the Gophers beat St. Thomas on a walk-off single.

Aleutian Calabay

Minnesota entered WednesdayâÄôs game against St. Thomas knowing not to take the Division III team lightly. The Tommies are defending national champions and currently ranked No.1 in Division III. It took 12 innings and a delay following the Metrodome lights dimming, but the Gophers finally prevailed as Kurt Schlangen delivered a two-out, walk-off single to seal the 5-4 Gopher win. âÄúWe had a lot of different things going on out there tonight,âÄù Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. âÄúWe got to see a lot of players, and we got to see them in pressure situations with the game on the line. Any time you can play a game like that where every play counts, it helps your team grow.âÄù Minnesota was led at the plate by junior first baseman Nick OâÄôShea who finished the game going 3-for-5 with a walk and two RBIs. Sophomore AJ Pettersen went 2-for-6 with a run scored. The Gophers pitching staff combined for a solid effort. Sophomore Austin Lubinsky made his first start of the season, going 2 2/3 innings, giving up one run on two hits while striking out five. The Minnesota bullpen continued to keep the TommiesâÄô hitters off-balance as the Gophers combined for 17 strikeouts. Junior centerfielder Matt McQuillan went 3-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored to lead the Tommies. In what has been their usual fashion so far this season, the Gophers began the game playing from behind. St. Thomas got on the board in the first inning as Matt McQuillan hit a leadoff double and later scored on a Tayler Rahm single. Minnesota came back in the third inning to take a 2-1 lead as AJ Pettersen and Michael Kvasnicka both scored unearned runs on two St. Thomas errors. The Tommies would regain the lead in the top of the sixth inning as they manufactured a pair of runs off two hits and a walk. The Gophers tied the game at three in the bottom of the sixth as Trip Schultz fought off a number of tough pitches and eventually hit a slicing double that scored JT Canakes. Both bullpens continued to hold strong until the top of the ninth inning when McQuillan laced a single up the middle off Minnesota reliever Scott Fern that scored the go-ahead run for the Tommies to put them up 4-3. The Gophers responded in the bottom of the ninth as Matt Puhl scored the tying run when OâÄôShea beat out an infield hit with the bases loaded and two outs. But the game went into extra innings as Minnesota could not come up with another hit. St. Thomas and Minnesota had threats in the 11th inning, but both failed to get a hit with runners in scoring position. With one out in the bottom of the 12th inning, St. Thomas reliever Brandon Stone began losing his control as he hit Trip Schultz. Schultz then advanced to both second and third on wild pitches by Stone, which set the table for SchlangenâÄôs walk-off hit. The Gophers now move on to host the Metrodome Tournament this weekend. Minnesota will face Harvard at 6:35 p.m. Friday, Creighton at 6:35 p.m. Saturday and South Dakota State at 3:05 p.m. Sunday.