Baseball team gets bounced

Anthony Maggio

The Minnesota baseball team saw its season end abruptly last weekend, losing its first two games of the NCAA regional tournament in Baton Rouge, L.A.

The Gophers lost 10-9 to defending champion LSU, then dropped a 9-3 contest to California. Minnesota ended its season with a 39-21 record.

“At the beginning of the year we were setting ourselves up on going to a regional and winning,” third baseman Jack Hannahan said. “Overall I think we played great baseball. We stuck together as a team when times got tough and we overcame a lot.”

On Friday the Gophers faced LSU in their first game of the regional.

The Tigers took a 5-0 lead after two innings, aided by a pair of throwing errors charged to Minnesota catcher Jeremy Beaulieu.

The Gophers came back, however, scoring four runs in the top of the third.

LSU added a run in the third before Minnesota tied the score at six on a two-run home run by Scott Welch in the top of the fifth.

Starting Gophers pitched Mike Kobow was relieved in the bottom half of the inning after walking seven Tigers and striking out two.

Minnesota took an 8-7 lead in the sixth but gave up three runs in the bottom of the seventh due in part to a dropped fly ball by center fielder Sam Steidl, one of four errors on the day for Minnesota.

The Gophers had a chance to come back in the ninth after they brought the score within one at 10-9 on an RBI single by Steidl, but right fielder Jason Kennedy grounded into a game-ending double play.

“Obviously we are disappointed,” Minnesota coach John Anderson said. “One thing we couldn’t get involved in with LSU was not making plays on defense and walking people. I think it was the difference in the game.”

Virginia Commonwealth defeated California 9-7 to set up a Saturday matchup between the Gophers and the Bears.

The Bears put up five runs in the first inning, three off of Ben Birk, who “didn’t feel well before the game” and pitched only two-thirds of an inning.

“It was his first start in a long time and we just didn’t know he wouldn’t recover sooner,” Anderson said. “I applaud his effort today for giving it a shot.”

The Gophers scored two runs in the bottom half of the inning but could only manage one more the rest of the way.

Minnesota used four pitchers in the contest, but no one could stop the Bears’ batsmen from getting 16 hits, scoring nine runs and ending the Gophers season.

“Coming into the year we had expectations,” Josh Holthaus said. “A couple things went wrong, but the team stuck together. I think we played pretty well for what we had.”

 

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