Baseball final: Minnesota 13, UC-Santa Barbara 3

Austin Cumblad

First thing I noticed when I arrived for the Gophers’ opener in the DQ Classic – the Metrodome sets up a bit differently to the eye when I’m camped in the baseball press box as opposed to football.  But like the football box, the baseball press is open to the stadium, so we’ll be experiencing the harsh, biting, climate-controlled 70 degree weather under the bubble right along with everyone else.  Actually, it mostly means I’ll have to stay alert throughout the game for foul balls that might come whizzing up here.  We’re about 20 minutes away from the first pitch, I’ll update the scoreline and provide a little play-by-play as things progress.

UCSB starting pitcher – Mario Hollands Minnesota starting pitcher – Chauncy Handran UCSB starting lineup 1) CF Brian Gump 2) LF Gunnar Terhune 3) 1B Eric Oliver 4) SS Ryan Cavan 5) 2B Matt Valaika 6) DH John DeAlba 7) 3B Robby Cummings 8) C Bryce Tafelski 9) RF Mark Haddow Minnesota starting lineup 1) DH Matt Nohelty 2) SS AJ Pettersen 3) 2B Derek McCallum 4) 1B Nick O’Shea 5) RF Michael Kvasnicka 6) C Kyle Knudson 7) CF Eric Decker 8) LF Jon Humml 9) 3B Kyle Geason Top 1st Chauncy Handran retired the Gauchos in order, but not without giving the Gophers a scare. Jon Hummel was forced back to the wall to snag what turned out to be a long out by Eric Oliver. Bottom 1st After Matt Nohelty grounded to 1st to start the inning, AJ Pettersen sent a line over center fielder Brian Gumps head. The ball bounded over the wall after a hop for a ground rule double, an unfortunate break as Pettersen looked headed for third. Apparently Pettersen thought he deserved third too, and he stole successfully on the next pitch. Derek McCallum put runners on the corners with a walk. After a Nick O’Shea strikeout, Michael Kvasnicka singled up the middle to drive in Pettersen and stake the Gophers a 1-0 lead. With runners at the corners again, Kyle Knudson looped a shallow fly to right for the third out. Top 2nd Ryan Cavan walked to start the inning, then Matt Valaika moved him over with a ground ball to McCallum, who got the put-out at first but had no chance to turn two after having to move to his left to make the play. Cavan made his way to third thanks to John DeAlba’s groundout to short, but Handran fanned Robby Cummings on four pitches to leave Cavan stranded at third. Bottom 2nd Eric Decker went down swinging and Jon Hummel watched his third strike go by before Kyle Geason managed to get on base with a two-out walk. Nohelty’s bloop single moved Geason to third, then Minnesota used a double steal to move Geason to the plate. Nohelty took off when Hollands moved to first, then Gauchos 1st baseman Eric Oliver hesitated a moment too long as Geason bolted home and slid around the tag of catcher Bryce Tafelski. With Nohelty at second, Pettersen dropped a single just over the head of Matt Valaika and Nohelty huslted home. McCallum struck out looking to end the inning. Top 3rd Three up three down again for Handran. Bottom 3rd The Gophers put runs on the board for the third straight inning thanks home runs by Kvasnicka and Hummel. Kvasnkicka’s solo shot to left came after an O’Shea groundout and Hummel’s two-run jack landed in almost the same place. Geason followed Hummel’s dinger with a double to right, but Nohelty grounded out to end the inning. Top 4th Eric Oliver lined a ball right down the first base line with one down and looked headed for a double, but Kvasnicka, whose having quite a game to this point, made a perfect throw to second and Pettersen laid the tag down for the second out of the inning. A grounder to Pettersen by Cavan ended the half inning. Bottom 4th UC-Santa Barbara’s Oliver is having a tough time. His throw to Hollands at first was wide and skipped to the backstop, allowing Pettersen to reach safely and advance to second. A groundout by O’Shea with one out moved Pettersen to third but Kvasnicka went down swinging and the Gauchos finally made it out of an inning unscathed. Top 5th I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. Handran retires them in order again. Bottom 5th Hollands answers with a quick one-two-three of his own. Top 6th Handran suffers the first blemish on his outing – Haddow homers to straightaway center. Working out of the stretch for only the second time this game, Handran walks the next batter on five pitches and the Minnesota bullpen springs to life. But on a hit and run, Gunnar Terhune is jammed, Geason makes an easy catch and doubles Brian Gump up at first to get out of the inning. Bottom 6th After two quick outs, Pettersen adds to an already successful day by hustling out a double to the gap in left-center. McCallum hits a sharp grounder to third and appears to beat the throw but he’s called out to end the inning. Top 7th Handran walks Oliver to open the inning, then is replaced by lefty Phil Isaksson. He leaves, deservedly, to a nice ovation from the home crowd. Isaksson’s first batter, Ryan Cavan, lined a shot off O’Shea’s glove to put men on first and second with nobody out. Isaksson responds by taking Steve Cook, who looks to be replacing Matt Valaika, down on strikes, but plunks the next batter to load the bases. Isaksson gets a double play ball, but McCallum mishandles it and the Gauchos plate one. A walk to the next batter sends another baserunner home and Isaksson’s day is over. Cullen Sexton cleans up the mess by forcing a strikeout and a fly to right. Bottom 7th Right-hander Patrick McIntyre pitching for UC-SB now, he sits down the Gophers in a hurry and we’re on to the eighth. Top 8th Sexton continues to make quick work of the Gauchos. He sits them down in order. It helps that he’s throwing nothing but strikes. Bottom 8th Decker knocks a shot off the football press box in right for a homer that got out in a hurry. After Hummel grounds out to first, Geason gets plunked and Nohelty moves him to second on a hit and run. A single by Pettersen, his fourth hit of the night, drives in Geason. McCallum homers to almost the same place as Decker, O’Shea doubles, Kvasnicka drives him in, then Knudson drives in Kvasnicka, then Decker (yes, he’s up again) singles Knudson to third, then McIntyre is yanked in favor of Matthey Brady, then pinch hitter Trip Schultz drives in Knudson, then Geason walks, then Nohelty grounds out to first to finally end the inning. Apologies for the incredibly long sentence, it was a long inning… Top 9th One-two-three again and that’s the ballgame.