U baseball gets at-large bid to

Sarah Mitchell

Three Big Ten schools will be represented this weekend at one of 16 four-team NCAA baseball regional sites.
Minnesota received an at-large bid Monday, along with Ohio State and Michigan. The Wolverines (32-28) earned an automatic berth Sunday by beating the Gophers (44-16) 12-11 in the Big Ten tournament title game.
The Gophers received the No. 2 seed in the Waco, Texas, regional. Joining Minnesota are nationally fourth-ranked and host Baylor (No. 1), Arizona (No. 3) and Eastern Illinois (No. 4). The Gophers will play Arizona in the first round.
“We got a real good seed,” Gophers senior Robb Quinlan said. “I think we like who we are opening up against.”
Like Minnesota, Michigan will hit the road, traveling to South Bend, Ind., as the fourth seed. Host Notre Dame (No. 2), Fullerton (No. 1) and Creighton (No. 3) round out that regional.
Ohio State (46-12) remains at home to host the Columbus, Ohio, regional. Nebraska (No. 2), Mississippi State (No. 3) and Bowling Green (No. 4) made this regional as well.
The winner of each double-elimination playoff advances to one of eight two-team super regionals in two weekends to compete in a best-of-three format for a spot at the College World Series. Despite a Sunday loss to Michigan, the Gophers like their chances of moving on.
“This year’s different because we are expected to be there,” Gophers junior Mike Arlt said. “Every team in the bracket is good, but they’re all beatable.”

Tournament Awards
The Gophers’ bid to defend their 1998 Big Ten tournament title fell short over the weekend, but several individual players received top honors for their performances. Six Gophers made the Big Ten all-tournament team.
“We hit really well, we were just short of pitching,” Arlt said. “We’ve been putting it together, moving people over when they’re on base, getting the timely hits, getting the two-strike hits and playing well on defense.”
Two of the three pitchers recognized were from Minnesota, junior Chadd Clarey and sophomore Kelly Werner. Clarey surrendered just six hits and one run in his complete-game performance against top-seeded Ohio State in Minnesota’s 10-1 win Friday. Werner also went the distance, allowing 10 hits and two earned runs during the team’s 9-3 downing of Illinois Saturday.
Sophomore Josh Holthaus was awarded at the catcher position. Holthaus began the season competing for a spot in the lineup, but after this weekend the catcher might have a lock on the starting spot.
While handling duties behind the plate, Holthaus went 9-for-19 while scoring five runs and driving in seven.
“Josh has earned the spot,” Gophers coach John Anderson said. “He’s just been seeing the ball.”
Quinlan was the lone Gophers infielder, taking the honor at first base. Offensively, Quinlan went 9-for-22, including two home runs.
“I guess it’s a great honor,” Quinlan said. “I wish it would have been on the other end of the win.”
Freshman Jason Kennedy was the sole Gophers outfielder to be recognized. Kennedy’s 7-for-16 performance set two tournament records while matching another. Kennedy broke the runs-scored record of nine with 11, the RBI record of 10 with 11 and tied the home runs mark with four.
Senior Aron Amundson cleaned-up as the designated hitter. Amundson went 10-for-23, including four runs and seven RBIs.

Around the Horn
ù Minnesota set several tournament team records. The Gophers recorded the most at-bats (185), the most runs (52), the most hits (61), the most RBIs (50) and the most walks (26).