Gophers stave off elimination with huge inning

Facing elimination, Minnesota scored eight runs and Phil Isaksson pitched effectively.

Derek Wetmore

In the opening round of the Big Ten tournament Wednesday, a big inning knocked the Gophers to the loserâÄôs bracket. Thursday it was a big inning of their own that helped them stave off elimination and cruise to the next round.

After struggling to find offensive consistency all year Minnesota exploded for eight runs in the fourth inning, sending 12 men to the plate and Penn State home for the summer.

Senior Phil Isaksson kept the Nittany Lions off balance by mixing his fastball and breaking pitches. He struck out eight men through 5 1/3 innings before leaving with the bases loaded in the sixth.

Billy Soule relieved him and escaped the jam with back-to-back strikeouts. He pitched the final 3 2/3 innings to shut the door on Penn StateâÄôs tournament hopes. 

The GophersâÄô offensive outburst began with a Justin Gominsky single followed by a two-run home run from Nick OâÄôShea. Dan Olinger then walked before Kyle Geason sacrificed him to second.

Troy Larson and Matt Puhl both had RBI singles and the top of the order rattled off three straight doubles, including GominskyâÄôs second hit of the inning. OâÄôShea then drove him in with an RBI single before Olinger grounded out to end the Nittany LionsâÄô nightmare.

The remainder of the game was no walk in the park, however, as the final score would otherwise indicate. Soule walked three of the first four batters in the eighth inning to load the bases.

He got out of the jam with a groundball double play to the third baseman to douse the flames of a Penn State rally. The following inning he sent the of the lineup down in order to earn his first career save.

Minnesota will now play at 11:05 A.M. Friday. They await final results from other games to find out who their opponent will be, but overcast skies in Columbus, Ohio, have postponed the remaining games for Thursday.