It has been a busy week at work which means slow posting. But I feel the need to congratulate the Gopher baseball team on a great season. Here is a brief rundown and link list of what happened at last weekend's San Diego Regional...
- Gophers ousted the #1 seed (#8 overall) and host San Diego (W 6-5). The Gophers were 3 outs from a shutout win before the Toreros score 5 quick runs to tie it and send it to extra innings. But freshman 2B, Derek McCallum delivered the game winning hit in the bottom of the 10th to extend the season.
- Minnesota was unable to get the clutch hit and they allowed a couple BIG innings in losses to Cal State Fullerton (L 1-7) and Fresno State (L 6-11).
- All-Regional team included
- 2B - Derek McCallum (Fr)
- 1B - Bryan Jost (So)
- SS - Dan Lyons (Sr)
- Record 41-18, most wins since 1999, 2nd place in the Big Ten
- Defeated 3 teams ranked in the top 10 nationally
- Mike Mee...
- Set Golden Gopher record for games played
- highest season batting average (.392) since Sam Steidl in 2001
- ended 3rd all time on gopher hit list
- 7th consecutive season playing in the Big Ten Tournament Championship game
So it was a fine season, but what does the roster initially look like for 2008? Here is what is returning for players with 75+ at bats in 2007.
- OF/1B/DH - Mike Mee - unanimous selection to All-Big Ten, team MVP, team batting champ. Mee batted 3rd in the order and will clearly be missed.
- SS - Dan Lyons - .315 hitter with 9 HRs (2nd on team). Lyons was SS but he had 20 errors which seems high to me (but I'm not familiar enough to know if that is high or not for a college SS).
- RF - Kyle Baran - .330 hitter who was also solid in the OF. Only 1 HR
- LF - Tijl Vanderwege - .266 hitter, I would imagine that we can find somebody to replace Vanderwege without much of a drop off. Started about 1/2 of the games this year.
- C - Kevin Carlson - the teams primary catcher starting 32/50 games. Likely to be replaced by combo of (Jr) Jeff DeSmidt and (Fr) Kyle Knutson. His numbers were not great (.279)but often a reliable catcher can be a team leader.
- SP - Marcus McKenzie - 7-1, started 10 games but finished with an ERA of 6.61. #3 starter.
- Closer - Josh Oslin - 11 saves and was one of the better closers in the Big Ten, Oslin's numbers and reliability will be difficult to replace.
- RP - Bill Johnson - 2.27 ERA, 4-0 in 23 relief appearances, Johnson was as good as it got in the relief role.
- OF - Matt Nohelty (So) - leadoff batter and CF. Nohely was 2nd on the team in hitting , 2nd in runs scored and led the team with 24 SBs in 30 attempts. Nohelty will be heavily counted upon next year at the plate.
- 3B - Nate Hanson (So) - lead team in HRs and RBIs with 10 and 51 respectively, also batted .338. Hanson was usually cleanup and will also be key for next year's club. Started all 59 games for the team this year
- 1B - Bryan Jost (So) - .303 hitter, 4th on team in slugging % and 6 HRs. Jost is solid and actually had a very good Regional tournament.
- 2B/SS - Derek McCallum (Fr) - the freshman was 3rd on the team with a .340 average. His numbers indicate that he'll be a valued player over the next 3 seasons.
- SP - Tom Buske (So) - team's #1 starter. 5-2 with 3.43 ERA.
- SP - Gary Perinar (Jr) - 4-6, 5.75 ERA team's #2 starter by the end of the Big Ten season.
- SP - Dustin Brabender (Jr) - 5-1 in 14 starts
- RPs - Kyle Carr (So) and Ethan Vogt (Jr) - solid seasons mostly in relief roles (Vogt did have 6 starts), both will be given the opportunity to eat more innings and contribute more next season.
CF - Nohelty
SS - McCallum
1B - Jost
3B - Hanson
DH - ?
OF - Tom Steidl (?)
C - DeSmidt
2B - Jeremy Chlan (?)
OF - ?
SP - Buske
SP - Perinar
SP - Brabender
SP - Vogt
RP - Carr
RP - others
I see a solid nucleus of 4 returning position players (CF, 3B, 1B, SS), and really all 4 starters should be solid in 2008 as well. Then we should be able to replace the hitting numbers of C and LF. That leaves holes to fill at RF and 2B. Next year's team looks poised to build on the success of 2007 and get 45+ wins next year.