It was discussed here that winning a Big Ten regular season title was certainly possible for this year’s Gopher baseball team. Projected to finish third in the league with a very favorable schedule, a very experienced lineup but major questions on pitching; it wasn’t out of the question to see them finish higher.
Well answers to the pitching questions were resoundingly answered, hitting was as good as expected and John Anderson’s squad won the Big Ten regular season for the program’s 24th time.
#Gophers claim the 24th #B1G Championship in program history! pic.twitter.com/pLPFg03YgM— Minnesota Baseball (@GopherBaseball) May 18, 2018
Why have the Gophers had such a successful season? Here are just a few key reasons...
Pitching was better than expected. Reggie Meyer anchored the Friday starter role, as was expected, finishing the regular season with a 6-3 record. True freshman Patrick Fredrickson is almost certainly going to be the Big Ten’s freshman of the year, quite possibly may be the pitcher of the year. Prior to today’s start agaisnt Rutgers, Fredrickson was 7-0 with a 1.71 ERA and gave the team two top-notch starters to give this team a chance to start out 2-0 in every series they played. But it wasn’t just Fredrickson. Sophomore Brett Schultz was relied upon in 17 appearances. All he did was go 8-0 with a 1.91 ERA. Then another freshman, Max Meyer turned out to be the Big Ten’s best closer notching 13 saves, making 21 appearances and sporting a 1.69 ERA. The pitching stepped up in a huge way to give this team the Big Ten’s 2nd best pitching staff, statistically.
Hitting did what it was supposed to AND IMPROVED. Terrin Vavra went from hitting .308 a year ago with 2 HRs to hitting .396 and belting 9 HRs. Ben Mezzenga went from .296 to .386. Cole McDevitt added some pop with 8 HRs, a stat that would have lead the team a year ago. And even though Toby Hanson, arguably the team’s biggest threat in the lineup, missed around 10 games; the team still managed to dominate at the plate. And everyone seemed to hit well this year as the team has hit over .300 as a team, leading the Big Ten.
Good defense is a staple for a John Anderson team, but this year’s team finished 2nd to Illinois in the conference.
The Big Ten Tournament is yet to come as the Gophers aim at hosting an NCAA Tournament Regional. Stay tuned...