Baseball sneaks past Wichita St.

Jim Schortemeyer

The Gophers baseball team came dangerously close to going without a win in this weekend’s Hormel Classic at the Metrodome.
Minnesota lost to Washington State 6-5 on Friday and Florida State 9-5 on Saturday before salvaging its weekend with a 5-4 win over Wichita State on Sunday.
Two of Minnesota’s four starters were inactive for this weekend’s tournament, which meant a busy weekend for the bullpen. Coach John Anderson was satisfied with his team’s effort.
“For not having everybody healthy,” Anderson said, “I thought the kids battled well this weekend.”
Sunday’s win came thanks to a superb effort from Minnesota reliever Frank Wagner. The junior took over for starter Chad Clarey in the fifth inning with runners on first and second. Though Wagner allowed one of the runners to score, he got out of the inning and the game was tied 3-3.
From that point on, Wagner was almost unhittable. Over his five innings of relief, he allowed just four hits and one run.
But despite Wagner’s pitching, the Shockers tied the game in a wild ninth inning.
With two outs in the ninth and a runner on second base, Wichita State’s Jeff Ryan came to the plate.
Then the fun started. Ryan hit a soft chopper down the third-base line, which third-baseman Jack Hannahan scooped up and threw to first. Ryan was called out at first, though replays later showed that he was probably safe.
After the call, Shockers first-base coach Jim Thomas began to argue vehemently with first-base umpire Sean Vellek. Both men turned their hats backwards and got close enough to exchange fluids.
But while Thomas and Vellek were screaming at each other, the other umpires could faintly be heard yelling, “It was a foul ball!”
The two were arguing over a moot point. Ryan’s chopper had gone into foul territory. Thomas and Vellek were separated briefly, then went back at it. Vellek finally tossed Thomas out of the game, and play resumed several minutes later.
After the circus at first base, Ryan lined a single to center to drive in the runner and make the score 5-4. Ryan stole second and third base, but his efforts went for naught; Wagner got Pat Magness to fly-out to right field to end the game.
Wichita State coach Gene Stephenson was clearly upset by his team’s lethargic play.
“We played very poorly today. We were totally out of it. I don’t know if we had any interest in this game or not,” Stephenson said. “We have to come hard. Everybody wants to beat the Shocks, and so would I if I were them.”
The rest of Minnesota’s weekend wasn’t so eventful.
On Friday, the Gophers passed up several opportunities to put away Washington State and eventually got burned. Minnesota was up 5-0, but the Cougars scored six unanswered runs to win 6-5.
“We didn’t put them away and when you do that, stuff happens,” starting pitcher Kelly Werner said.
After the close game Friday, the Gophers got blown out 9-5 by top-ranked Florida State Saturday. The Seminoles led by as many as eight runs at one point in the game, thanks in part to starting pitcher Nick Stocks’ strong performance.
“We faced some pretty good pitching. Their starter did a number on us,” Arlt said.
Though the Gophers (7-6) did manage to beat 13th-ranked Wichita State, Anderson wasn’t pleased with his team’s defense this weekend. The Gophers had eight errors.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t win more games,” Anderson said. “Friday is the most disappointing because we gave it away. We have to have a good defensive game because of the pitching. We don’t have the kind of pitchers that can strike a lot of guys out.”