The Gophers have completed the first two weekend's of the seasons and after the seven games they are a respectable 5-2. The team is hitting the ball very well and unlike a year ago they are winning the close games. I'll start with a little summary on the season and then super brief recaps of the games after the jump.
Statistically this team has been very solid through seven games. They are third in the Big Ten in hitting, second in pitching and second in fielding. Decker is leading the B10 in hitting (.519), Kvasnicka is first in doubles (5) and AJ Petterson is leading the league in stolen bases (5/6).
The table below are the stats shown in what has been our typical batting order.
Pitching has been hit or miss, some guys have had pretty good numbers while a few in the bullpen have struggled in the few innings they have pitched.
A solid start to the season. Expectations are low and even with the slightly softer non-conference schedule this year I would imagine there is some surprise seeing the 5-2 start. It is a long season and the real challenge is maintaining competitiveness and improving as the season progresses.
brief game recaps below the jump...
Big Ten / Big East Challenge
The Gophers opened the season with Seton Hall and it wasn't a pretty result, losing 2-11. Gopher starter, Chauncy Handrin pitched well enough through three innings but things got rough in the fourth and the Pirates took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the inning. The poured it on from there and cruised. On the bright side for Minnesota two of the redshirt freshmen led the team from the plate. 1B-Nick O'Shea knocked in both runs going 2-4 and 3B-Kyle Geason was 2-3 with a walk.
Game 2 put the Gophers against West Virginia and they were able to come out with a 5-4 win over the Mountaineers. Redshirt freshman, SS-AJ Petterson walked with the bases loaded in the 8th to score the go ahead run. Seth Rosin started the game pitching four scoreless innings and Cullen Sexton was able to pick up the win with 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. At the plate sophomore OF-Kyle Kvasnicka was 2-5 with two doubles, a run and an RBI. 2B-Derek McCallum and Eric Decker were both 3-5.
Game 3 of opening weekend was actually against Michigan State and was another Gopher win as they beat the Spartans 7-2. Tom Buske (pictured right) on the mound was able to go six innings giving up just three hits, two runs and recorded four Ks. And once again the team hit well with Decker (3-4, 2 runs), McCallum (3-4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs) and Kvasnicka (2-4, 2 runs, 3 RBIs and 1 HR) leading the way.
After the trip to Florida the Gophers returned home and had a Thursday game before the Dairy Queen Classic. The Gophers dropped this one 2-6 to Hawaii. The top of the order hit well with all of them getting a couple hits and the team did hit 11/38 but were unable to get the runs accross. The pitching staff struggled particularly Dustin Klabunde who started and lasted only 3 innings giving up 2 runs with 4 walks.
Dairy Queen Classic
Friday - UC-Santa Barbara. Gophers win the opening game 13-3 behind very good pitching and very good hitting. UCSB went on to win their next two games and finish second in the DQ Classic so this turned out to be a significant win. Chuancy Handrin gave up just 3 this in 6 innings to keep the Gauchos guessing. AJ Petterson was 4-5 with 2 runs and 2 RBIs. The Gophers also displayed plenty of power as Kvasnicka (pictured right), Decker, McCallum and Hummel all went deep.
Saturday - Washington. This one took 10 innings but the Gophers pulled out the win 6-5. This was similar to the West Virginia win in that it was won on a walk-off walk (kind of ). Dereck McCallum was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to "bring home" the winning run. DH-Matt Nohelty and C-Kyle Knudson led the way this time both going 4-5 and with Knudson hitting a solo HR. Tom Buske was solid as the starter and Scott Fern closed it up while the middle relief gave up 4 runs in 4.1 IP.
Sunday - Hawaii. Another close game resulting in a W, 5-4 was the final and the Gophers go three and oh to win the DQ Classic. This one was exciting. The Gophers trailed 4-2 in the bottom of the 9th but rallied to win. With two out Decker came through with an RBI single and then stole 2nd to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. Jon Hummel was at the plate and delivered a 2-run single to give us the lead and the DQ Classic crown. (video can be seen here).