Gophers beat Buckeyes to win Big Ten Tournament

Dan Miller

Water finally drenched Minnesota baseball coach John Anderson on Siebert Field.

The Gophers beat Ohio State 7-3 Sunday afternoon at Siebert Field to win the Big Ten Tournament, marking the first time they are regular season and tournament champions.

Minnesota has played host to the tournament as conference champions and has had the Big Ten Coach of the Year for three straight seasons. But the Gophers weren’t able to douse their coach on the final day until Sunday.

“When you don’t accomplish certain things or you don’t get as far as you want to get – you take lessons from those,” Anderson said. “One of the players’ main goals was to win the Big Ten Tournament Ö They were tired of losing.”

With the tournament title, the Gophers (38-21) won an automatic berth in the NCAA Championships. Monday, the Gophers were seeded third in their region and will take on Cal State Fullerton (36-20) beginning Friday, June 4 at 9 p.m.

Minnesota advanced to the championship against Ohio State after quickly disposing of Purdue 6-1 on Thursday and Michigan 16-3 on Friday.

But Ohio State, which took the last two tournament titles from the Gophers, beat Minnesota on Saturday 3-2 to set up an elimination game Sunday.

The Buckeyes swung hot bats during the entire tournament, setting a record with 80 hits including 14 off the Gophers on Sunday.

But Minnesota’s junior starting pitcher Josh Krogman was able to spread out those hits on Sunday. He pitched five shutout innings, allowing eight hits and two runs over six innings of work.

“People have been stepping up all season,” Krogman said. “I just figured it was my time and wanted to get out there and throw strikes early.”

Despite coming off a 14-day layoff from his last outing, Krogman impressed his team and coach with his best showing this season.

In fact, Anderson said Krogman’s performance was his strongest since coming back from the Tommy John surgery he had two years ago.

The Gophers gave Krogman an early one-run lead in the top of the first as catcher Jake Elder hit a sacrifice fly to allow sophomore Luke MacLean to score.

After first baseman Andy Hunter hit a 377-foot homerun to deep right field in the seventh, the Gophers took a commanding 6-0 lead.

In the bottom of the inning, the Buckeyes spanked a couple of quick singles off Krogman. The quick start translated into a three-run inning and cut the Gophers’ lead in half going into the eighth.

But Gophers second baseman Jared Sanders gave the Gophers a comfort run in the ninth, with an RBI single that scored Mike Mee.

In the bottom of the ninth Minnesota ace, Glen Perkins, who was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, came in for the save, striking out one.

The save wasn’t Perkins’ only clutch performance of the tournament. The sophomore got the Gophers rolling in the first game with one of the most dominating performances of the season.

Perkins struck out 15 batters and walked none in a complete game two hitter.

Minnesota followed Perkins’ lead in game one with an offensive barrage in game two against Michigan. The 16-3 win was the team’s largest margin of victory since 1995.

The Buckeyes stopped the Gophers’ roll with a narrow one-run victory Saturday night, which ended with a double-play when the Gophers had runners on the corners.

But the Gophers had no intention of repeating last year’s loss in the Sunday elimination game.

“It feels especially good against (the Buckeyes),” Hunter said. “Like I said

(Saturday) these are the guys we want to beat and we came out and gave it to them today. We owed them one, that’s for sure.”