U baseball team takes two of three at Classic

by Jim Schortemeyer

One of the golden rules of baseball — Thou shalt pitch well to win — came under heavy fire from the Gophers baseball team this weekend at the Hormel Classic.
The pitching was less than spectacular in two of Minnesota’s three games. The Gophers gave up a combined 33 hits Friday and Saturday but still managed to win two out of three games in the four-team Metrodome tournament.
Minnesota benefitted from another rule of baseball: good hitting can sometimes make up for poor pitching. The Gophers were hitting .342 coming into the weekend and pushed that number to .351 with another hot weekend at the plate.
“I think playing on the turf (at the Metrodome) has helped a lot,” Gophers outfielder Craig Selander said.
The hitting started right away in the first game, when Minnesota jumped out to a 5-0 lead against Rutgers on Friday. Because of pitching woes, the lead dissolved to one run by the seventh inning.
But sophomore Brad Pautz came in and shut the door, pitching three scoreless innings to pick up the save in the 9-8 victory. Coaches were especially happy with Pautz’s result.
“Brad had elbow surgery last spring, and hasn’t been healthy until now,” head coach John Anderson said.
The Gophers played with fire again on Saturday, but they got burned. California abused Minnesota pitchers for 16 hits and nine runs en route to a 9-7 victory. Xavier Nady went 4-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored to lead the Bears. Minnesota took the hits in stride.
“You can’t be upset about the way we played,” Anderson said. “We just didn’t play real good defense, and didn’t get any big innings.”
The Gophers recovered nicely on Sunday, jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead and never looking back. Minnesota mushed the Huskies to an 11-1 victory, on the strength of a good outing from Kai Freeman.
Freeman provided the best stint of all the pitchers in the tournament, working 5.2 innings and allowing only four hits, while striking out four. No pitcher in the tournament pitched more than three innings without allowing a run. Freeman said the game plan didn’t change from his outings earlier in the year.
“Every game we work on keeping the ball down, and being aggressive,” said Freeman. “The things we wanted to do early worked.”
Minnesota had the lowest team ERA of the weekend, a less-than-splendid 6.00. The Huskies fought for, and won, the honor of having the worst pitching staff of the tournament. Connecticut had an ERA over 13, and every one of its pitches allowed at least one earned run.
California won the classic on the heels of its victories over Minnesota and Connecticut earlier in the weekend. Their record improved to 7-11-1, while the Gophers are a sparkling 11-3. Minnesota’s 1976 start of 19-3 is a long way off, but with games coming up against St. Scholastica, Gustavus, and Mankato State, the school could make progress toward matching it.
“Overall, I think we played well,” Anderson said. “I thought we played well all the way around.”
Arlt 13 1 7 1
Scanlon 14 2 5 2
Quinlan 9 5 4 3
Selander 14 5 6 3
Groebner 13 6 3 5
Horton 4 3 3 2
Egan 8 0 2 3
R.Brosseau 9 3 3 3
M.Brosseau 6 0 3 1
Negan 8 0 1 0
Devore 9 1 5 1
Holthaus 1 0 0 0
LaRue 1 0 0 0
Beaulieu 1 0 0 0
Team 110 26 42 24