Dairy Queen Classic to feature elite-level teams

by Robert Mews

The Metrodome will be scattered with major league scouts this weekend as a slate of talented teams come to play Minnesota in the Dairy Queen Classic.

The Gophers (0-3) host Arizona (8-4) on Friday, Notre Dame (2-2) on Saturday and finish up Sunday against 23rd-ranked Nebraska (5-2).

All three opponents made the NCAA Tournament last season. High-powered Nebraska finished third and returns a very young team this season.

“They’ve lost some substantial position players,” coach John Anderson said. “But they have great pitching.”

All three teams have talent, but as Anderson said earlier this season, that’s just what he likes.

“All three teams have talent,” Anderson said. “They must be in town, because a lot of major league scouts and people are coming in here. They wouldn’t be coming in here if there wasn’t talent.”

On Friday, Gophers left-handed pitcher Brian Bull (0-1) will head to the mound and likely will face lefty Eric Berger (2-2).

Although Bull was recorded for the 5-0 loss to Florida State last weekend, he did pitch five solid innings.

He will face an Arizona lineup that has a good number of left-handed batters.

“For me it’s really not going to change my approach,” Bull said. “I’ve always just been the kind of guy that tries to work middle-down (strike zone), try to get a lot of ground balls.”

However, Bull said the lefties present an opportunity to pitch more inside.

“It kind of depends on what hitter is up,” Bull said.

He said the top of the lineup features runners and that part of the batting order will be the key for the Gophers to win.

It’s early in the season to take too many risks with pitching as Minnesota walked 22 batters last weekend.

“I saw, every guy we put up there, I thought was a competitive Division I pitcher, but they don’t have command,” Anderson said of last weekends pitching. “That will come with more opportunity to pitch.”

Cole DeVries (0-1) will get his first opportunity to lower his 23.14 earned-run average Saturday.

The right-hander will face off against the Fighting Irish’s right-hander Jeff Samardzija (1-0).

Of all the teams the Gophers face this weekend, Notre Dame has the least amount of game experience this season.

On Sunday, Dustin Brabender (0-1) will face off against Huskers right-hander Johnny Dorn (1-1).

The Nebraska program historically has been strong.

Last year’s second-overall pick in the major league draft, Alex Gordon, played for the Huskers last season.

This year’s team has a number of talented players as well.

Two batters are hitting better than .400, and three are hitting better than .300 this season.

“I think early in the season you’re going to have tons of guys that get off to a good start,” second baseman Luke MacLean said. “So, looking at numbers can get you into trouble sometimes.”