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Gopher baseball drops first 4 games of season

Minnesota started its season last week losing its first four games.
Minnesota takes the plate at Siebert Field in Minneapolis, Minn. in a game against Maryland on Saturday, April 9, 2022.

Minnesota started the 2023 baseball season in Surprise, Arizona, against some difficult competition.

The Gophers lost all four games they participated in during the 2023 Sanderson Ford College Baseball Classic Friday through Monday. They faced New Mexico, No. 14 University of California-Santa Barbara (ranked No. 14/RV nationally) and No. 18 Oregon State, according to Baseball America’s rankings.

Feb. 17 vs. UC-Santa Barbara

The first game featured a matchup against the University of California-Santa Barbara, who came into the season ranked 14th in the country.

The Gophers’ outfield went 6-13 from the plate driving in three of the team’s seven runs. Kris Hokenson, the freshman right fielder, started his Minnesota career scoring twice.

The Gophers needed more production, though, as they ultimately fell to the Gauchos 7-9.

Feb. 18 vs. Oregon State

Following the season-opening loss, the Gophers received an immediate chance at redemption, facing off against Oregon State. It was another tough matchup for the Gophers as they trailed the entirety of the game, even though they managed to out-hit the Beavers 13-5.

The star of the game for the Gophers once again came from the outfield as junior center fielder Brett Bateman went 4-5 and scored twice.

Going into the top of the seventh inning, Minnesota trailed 8-2. The Gophers managed to cut the lead to one, scoring five runs to make it interesting in the closing stages.

Despite their best efforts, the Beavers halted the Gophers’ late-inning rally, and Ryan Brown registered his first save of the season for Oregon State.

Feb. 19 vs. UC-Santa Barbara

The Gophers never got going during the second game in three days against the Gauchos. After putting up a valiant effort in their first matchup, this time, Santa Barbara took the lead early on and never looked back, winning the game 13-2.

For UC-Santa Barbara, Ivan Brethowr went a perfect 4-4 from the plate, in addition to two walks and an RBI.

On the other side, in a loss like this, one of the main things Minnesota can see as a positive is the plate discipline. Minnesota drew 11 walks in the game, which helped get runners on base, but the Gophers stranded 13 in the loss.

Feb. 20 vs. New Mexico

In their final game of the Classic, Minnesota took on New Mexico. Heading into the game, New Mexico held a 2-1 record, having beaten Oregon State and Santa Barbara.

After a great day on the hill from both teams, Lenny Junior Ashby launched a pitch from Seth Clausen over the right field fence for a two-run home run, giving the Lobos a 3-2 lead. Although the Gophers outhit the Lobos 14-12, they lost on a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the 12th inning.

Sean Stephens became the hero for New Mexico after coming on as a pinch runner; he got the hit that sealed a 4-3 win over Minnesota in extra innings.

The Golden Gophers will look to turn their season around in Fort Myers, Florida, where they will face off against St. Louis in a three-game series starting Friday.

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