Baseball final: Minnesota 7, Ohio State 5

Austin Cumblad

Ought to be a fun one this weekend.  On paper, the matchup looks to be Ohio State’s bats versus Minnesota’s arms and gloves, but this is baseball.  Big Ten baseball.  Anything can happen.  The Gophers and Buckeyes have developed a healthy and evenly matched rivalry over the years as both teams have had their fair share of success in the Big Ten.  The series actually stands at an even 77-77-2 all-time.  I expect we’re in for some good games.

Minnesota starting pitcher – RHP Chauncy Handran, 4-1, 2.84 ERA
Ohio State starting pitcher – RHP Alex Wimmers, 5-0, 2.83 ERA

Minnesota batting order
1) DH Matt Nohelty
2) SS AJ Pettersen
3) 2B Derek McCallum
4) RF Michael Kvasnicka
5) CF Eric Decker
6) C Kyle Knudson
7) 1B Nick O’Shea
8) LF Justin Gominsky
9) 3B Kyle Geason

Ohio State batting order
1) LF Zach Hurley
2) 2B Cory Kovanda
3) CF Michael Stephens
4) 3B Justin Miller
5) C Dan Burkhart
6) SS Cory Rupert
7) DH Ryan Dew
8) RF Michael Arp
9) 1B Matt Streng

Chauncy Handran is a machine-like producer of ground balls. One ball has made it out of the infield in the air in three innings and that was a weak blooper easily tracked down by Decker. Ohio State has hit the ball hard on the ground a couple of times, has three hits and a run, but Handran is keeping the Buckeyes in check so far. AJ Pettersen is 2-2 so far with a 2 RBI triple and a run. He scored with no hesitation on a ball that squirted just a few feet away from Ohio State catcher Dan Burkhart. Though he did let a well-hit ball squirt by him in the top of the third when he tried to backhand it and turn a double play, it looks like Pettersen came to play tonight. Oh my. I didn’t realize my quip about Pettersen coming to play would be prophetic, but it was. With two on and two out in the top of the fourth, Cory Rupert sent a ground ball back up the middle that looked destined for the outfield and an RBI base hit. Pettersen had other ideas. Moving to his left, he laid out and snagged the ball. With runners moving on contact, all Pettersen could do was flip the ball out of his glove to second baseman Derek McCallum, who gathered it up and stepped on second to end the inning. Quite a web gem. Hope you’re not sick of hearing about Pettersen. In the top of the sixth, with Ohio State’s Michael Stephens on first, Justin Miller roped a single down the left field line (probably the best-hit ball off of Handran this evening). Justin Gominsky gathered it and threw towards third but Stephens was going to make it easily. Pettersen cut the ball off, turned and fired to second to catch Miller trying to sneak an extra bag out of the base hit. That out saved a run because the next batter, Burkhart, grounded out to McCallum to end the inning. Handran limped through the seventh inning, but saved his outing and perhaps the game by forcing Cory Kovanda to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. The bases were loaded with just one out and Handran had hit a batter and had surrendered three straight singles and a run before the double play. The Gophers brought in Cullen Sexton in the top of the eighth after they padded their lead with three more runs in the bottom of the seventh. Minnesota has hit the ball well tonight with men on base, but more importantly, its defense has returned to form (and then some) after a lackluster performance against Northern Iowa. Sexton was a bit wild and hittable in his first inning of work. He hit the lead-off batter, walked another, allowed a single, a double and three runs and the Buckeyes quickly narrowed the margin back to two.