U baseball will meet Illini

by Sarah Mitchell

After splitting with Michigan State this weekend at Siebert Field, the Minnesota baseball team locked up the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten tournament. With the conference playoff starting this week, the only thing unknown to the Gophers (41-14 overall, 21-7 in the Big Ten) was their first-round opponent.
Illinois (33-20, 15-12), one of three teams vying for the last two spots in the double-elimination tournament being held at Ohio State, earned the third seed and will play Minnesota in the opening game on Thursday.
Michigan (29-12, 15-13) slid past Indiana for the fourth seed and will face Big Ten regular season champions Ohio State (46-10, 25-3) in Thursday’s second game.

Final Farewell
Minnesota’s bid to host an NCAA regional was turned down Monday, putting an end to home-field appearances for five Gophers seniors. Aron Amundson, Matt Brosseau, Jim Egan, Brad Pautz and Robb Quinlan joined the program during its tougher years and helped Minnesota to a 146-79 record, including an 8-6 defeat of the Spartans in their Siebert Field farewell.
“I look at that group in total and they’ve done a lot, not just statistically, but in terms of what we’ve been aiming to do,” Gophers head coach John Anderson said. “That’s been to try and turn the team over to the players in some point in time and give them the responsibility, but also make them accountable for the things that have gone wrong. I think they’ve done that.”
Quinlan and Pautz have had the more prolific careers. Quinlan, the Gophers’ first baseman, assaulted Minnesota’s record book and holds eight career school records and five single-season records.
Pautz will leave the Gophers to join the Minnesota Twins, who drafted him in the sixth round last season. The staff ace has an 8-3 record and a 4.64 ERA through a team-leading 85.1 innings.
In his first and only season as an active Gopher, Amundson is second on the team with a .400 batting average. The Oklahoma transfer has provided power at the plate for Minnesota, adding a team-leading .729 slugging percentage to his statistics.
While Quinlan, Pautz and Amundson lead on paper, Brosseau and Egan have more intangible roles.
Playing time has been minimal for Egan this season. Egan has appeared in eight games with two starts. A high school draft pick of the Atlanta Braves, Egan opted to play for Minnesota, something Anderson said he is thankful for.
“I told Jimmy (Sunday) like I have many times, he hasn’t shown up a lot on the stat sheet, but what he’s done in terms of bringing leadership to this team has been huge,” Anderson said. “He should take a pat on the back and be very proud of the changes he’s made in our team chemistry.”
Brosseau has also seen less time in the lineup this season. Last season, Brosseau played in 49 games with 34 starts and earned a .341 batting average while committing just four errors in 152 chances at second base.
In an attempt to get more left-handed hitters in the lineup this season, the right-handed Brosseau took what Anderson called a “back seat.”
“I know at first it was difficult for him, but I don’t blame him,” Anderson said. “I never told him it shouldn’t be hard for him, but I asked him if he would respect our decisions and try to be ready to play whenever he was asked to play. He’s done this.”

Around the horn
ù Junior Matt Scanlon’s first-inning single during Saturday’s game one set a new school record. Scanlon now holds Minnesota’s single-season record with 30 doubles, topping Quinlan.