The Gophers baseball team concluded its nearly two-week-long spring trip and the Blue-Gray Classic in Montgomery, Ala., successfully on Sunday. Minnesota (6-4) defeated Ohio State 12-8 to finish 2-1 at the tournament and pick up its fourth win during a seven-game showing in Alabama.
The Gophers handed Ohio State its first loss of the season, a game in which the Buckeyes needed the services of three freshman pitchers to survive the game’s first four innings. Minnesota’s offense welcomed the young hurlers in the bottom of the first, stringing together a two-out rally.
First baseman Robb Quinlan singled to left off Buckeyes starter Nate Smith and advanced to third on a single to centerfield off the bat of junior Matt Scanlon.
A pass ball allowed Scanlon to move to second and senior Aron Amundson was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Freshman Jon Nuss picked up two RBIs on the next play, as Quinlan and Scanlon crossed the plate off Nuss’ single to centerfield. The Gophers tallied one more run that inning to take a three-run lead.
The Buckeyes evened the score in the top of the second, however, finding success against Minnesota starter Chadd Clarey. The junior college transfer surrendered three hits — including a leadoff homerun off the bat of sophomore infielder Chad Ehrnsberger — and a walk to the Buckeyes.
Minnesota built a lead in the bottom of the second and this time remained the front-runner. Quinlan’s two-run shot over the centerfield wall, the senior’s fourth dinger of the season, propelled the Gophers to a 6-3 lead and a win over a conference foe.
RBIs were M.I.A.
Stranding runners proved lethal to Minnesota on Saturday. The Gophers left 12 runners on base in falling short to Kentucky, 12-8, on Saturday.
With the score even at three after one inning, the Wildcats wasted no time regaining the lead, scoring six runs in the second inning off of Gophers starter Amundson. All of the runs were scored with two outs and the rally forced Amundson into the dugout after he allowed nine hits and seven earned runs.
With a reliever on the mound, the Gophers offense went to work, climbing within three runs. Junior Adam Horton recorded a two-run single and freshman Jason Kennedy picked up an RBI.
Down 12-8 in the top of the ninth, the Gophers found themselves in a favorable position with runners on first and second and nobody out. But the Gophers’ lack of offensive production with runners on base continued to be a problem, as the next three Minnesota hitters were retired.
In the opener
Poor defense was a saving grace for Minnesota on Friday in its 7-6 win over Troy State. The Gophers used a six-run eighth inning, helped along by two Troy State errors, to rally from a 3-1 deficit.
Scanlon started the Gophers run, reaching first on a throwing error by shortstop Jason Guynn. The error was Guynn’s third of the game.
Amundson followed and with one swing evened the score, homering for the second time in the game, this time over the left centerfield wall. The next five Gophers hitters reached base, tallying four more runs.
Minnesota’s season continues this weekend with the Hormel Classic at the Metrodome. The Gophers open the three-day tournament with a game against Washington State on Friday.