Baseball roster is full of home-grown talent

by Jim Schortemeyer

The Gophers men’s hockey team gets an abundance of attention for recruiting Minnesota players, but the baseball team isn’t much different. Every position player that started for the Gophers at this weekend’s Hormel Classic is from the state. In addition, seven are from the metro area.
“I’ve played against a lot of them,” said junior Jim Egan. “It’s different at first, because you remember battling against them.”
The Gophers have four players on their roster from local high school powerhouse Hill Murray, and also have two players from several other area schools.
Stepping up
On an individual basis, junior Robb Quinlan padded his batting average over the weekend. Quinlan homered in three games in a row leading up to Sunday.
On Sunday he was 0-for-2, but walked twice, scored once, and had an RBI. He went 4-for-8 on the weekend, raising his average to .377.
Mike Arlt had an impressive weekend as well. Arlt hit better than .500 on the weekend, and got on base a total of nine times.
In addition to Kai Freeman’s strong performance Sunday, another Gophers pitcher had a good outing. Brad Pautz pitched three scoreless innings Friday night, after coming into the game with runners on base. Pautz pitched his way out of the inning, and the game, earning kudos from his coach.
“He’s become a pitcher,” coach John Anderson said. “He was a thrower when he came here. He’s learned how to pitch.”
A tale of two throws
In the big “win free tuition for a year” giveaway Saturday, there were two very different contestants. Two fans whose names were drawn from a raffle had a chance to throw a ball from the pitcher’s mound through an eight-inch hole in order to win a full year on the University.
Suzanne Gonzalez, an exchange student from Spain, had never touched a baseball before her trip to the mound. Not surprisingly, her two chances were reminiscent of a presidential first pitch.
Then, freshman Andy Kaskubar stepped to the mound. A pitcher from the Rochester Patriots (an American Legion team), Kaskubar narrowly missed his shot at a one-year free ride scholarship. In consolation for missing the scholarships, both participants received a free “Hormel Classic” T-shirt.

ù Minnesota used nine different pitchers over the weekend, but they face no Division I opponents for two weeks and should have plenty of time to rest.
ù Attendance was hurt on Saturday by the men’s basketball team’s unexpected semifinal game in the Big Ten tournament. Minnesota was expecting between 8,000 and 12,000 fans, but drew only 5,500.