Since basketball is in it's lull season and football is in a down time for a couple months I am going to focus a little bit on baseball as the golden gophers are having a very nice season. After a 4 game sweep of Michigan State the gophers are 26-7 (9-2) and have won 16 of their last 18 games. Most of us know very little about the baseball team or that they even exist until the end of May and Sid tells us how they too need a new stadium and by the way they won the Big Ten tourney again. I too know very little about this team so here is a little bit of info that you should know...
- Minnesota is currently 2nd in the Big Ten behind Michigan (11-1). Prior to this weekend's games Michigan ranked 1st in conference in hitting, pitching and fielding % so on paper they appear to be a very good team. Minnesota ranked 6th, 2nd and 3rd respectively in hitting, pitching and fielding.
- Michigan and Minnesota did not play yet this season because their series was cancelled due to inclimate weather. I do not know if any of those games will be made up or if they won't see each other until the Big Ten tourney.
- They have wins so far this year over 3 ranked teams currently #4-Arkansas, #16-Pepperdine and #23-Mississippi.
- Most respected (and not respected) publications/blogs picked the Gophers to finish 3rd (and as low as 6th) in the Big Ten behing Michigan and Ohio State. Official season preview here and Big Ten Hardball's preview here.
1. CF - Matt Nohelty (Soph) - batting .367, 14 Stolen bases and a .444 OB%
2. SS - Dan Lyons (Sr) - JUCO transfer who is solid and leads team in HRs
3. LF - Mike Mee (Sr) - currently batting .448 with .608 slugggin%!! Candidate for Big10 POY
4. 3B - Nate Hanson (Soph) - had very good freshman season that was shortened due to injury, clean up and very good Soph!
5. RF - Kyle Baran (Sr) - hitting .284 with 1.00 fielding % as regular RF
6. 2B - Derrek McCallum (Fr) - hitting .351 as a true freshman, Twins 50th rnd draft pick out of high school
7. 1B - Bryan Jost (Soph) - .319 hitter and anchor at 1B, batted higher earlier in the season
8. C - Kevin Carlson (Sr) or Kyle Knutson (Fr) - Carlson is hitting .365
9. P / DH
Key Bench players
OF -Tijl Vanderweg (Sr) - .291
C - Jeff DeSmidt (Jr) - .259
OF - Sean Kommerstad (Sr) - .192
2B - Jeremy Chlan (Jr) - .152
Pitching - In conference play the teams play 1 game on Friday, a double-header on Saturday then game 4 on Sunday. So you have a basic 4 man rotation. I "think" that teams usually put their best pitcher on Friday, but I don't know if they set it up as their best to their 4th best or if teams mix it up a little in the 2,3,4 spots. Anybody with knowledge of this is welcome to let me know how it actually works.
Friday. Tom Buske (Soph) - 2.63 ERA, 2-0, the last 2 series have seen Buske as the Friday Starter
Sat Gm 1. Gary Perinar (Jr) - 2-3 and 3.95 ERA
Sat Gm 2. Marcus McKenzie (Sr, transfer) - 6-0 with 5.05 ERA
Sunday. Dustin Brabender (Jr) - 4-1 and 3.54 ERA, pro prospect
SP/RP - Ethan Vogt (Jr) - 1.91 ERA with 2-1 record for the occasional starter
RP - Kyle Carr (Soph) - 6'5" LHP, 4 saves, 3-1 record and 4.57 ERA
Closer - Josh Oslin (Sr) - 0.68 ERA with 9 saves
The pitching staff has been very good this year and returns most of they innings eaters from this season. So we can expect to have an even better pitching staff in the 2008 season, but let's see how far they can take us this year.
Remaining Big Ten series over the next 4 weekends...
@ Illinois - .500 team overall and in Big Ten, big road series if you want to win the league, this is pretty huge.
Northwestern - last in Big Ten a sweep should be expected
Ohio State - preseason favorite to compete with Michigan for title, being at home should help, but this is a big one. Buy your tickets now and take your kid to watch some good outdoor baseball!
@ Indiana - 2nd to last in Big Ten, should be a sweep if you want to win the league.
So far a season of greater success than 2006 and one that surpassed expectations. We are very close and stealing a Big Ten title would be sweet.