Reggie Meyer was outstanding late Thursday night as the junior threw a complete game shutout as Minnesota beat Illinois 3-0. The win moves the Gophers along in the Big Ten Tournament. They get Friday off and await the winner of Michigan/Ohio State from the losers bracket.
Not much more needs to be said about Meyer’s dominant performance. He went the distance, giving up only 3 hits over 9 innings while striking out 8 Illini batters. The Gopher lineup scored 2 runs in the first inning with Eli Wilson and Cole McDevitt both hitting RBI singles. And they tacked on a third run in the 5th when Terrin Vavra brought in Toby Hanson with a ground ball fielder’s choice.
Hanson’s run came on back to back bunts to start the 5th. Hanson bunted hard down the third baseline, the Illini fielder decided to let it go, hoping it would go foul. But it did not, Hanson’s bunt continued down the line, bounced off the base and rolled into left field. Hanson continued and ended up with a bunt double. Luke Pettersen then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Hanson over, but his bunt was perfection and he ended up with a single. It is this kind of execution that Minnesota has been displaying this season and makes them hard to beat.
And they are even harder to beat when their pitcher throws a complete game shutout.
And not only did Meyer shut down the Illini hitters, he also sawed off one of their bats. AN ALUMINUM BAT!
So that’s behind us.
What Comes Next
The Gopher nine get today off as the loser’s bracket plays out. The winner of this afternoon’s Michigan vs. Ohio State game will face Minnesota on Saturday morning.
Minnesota sits in great position as they have yet to use the Big Ten’s pitcher of the year, Patrick Fredrickson who is well-rested and will be facing a team that will be playing their 4th game in as many days.
Should the Gophers win Saturday morning, they will be in the Big Ten Championship game on Sunday. Should they drop Saturday’s game, they will play a rematch at approximately 9:00 pm Saturday night.
NCAA Tournament Status
The Gophers are a lock to make the field and at this point they are essentially a lock to host a regional. If they drop two in a row, maybe they fall out of hosting status but I’d be surprised.
So the only thing left to play for is moving up the seed rank, with still an outside shot at getting a top-8 seed and Super Regional guaranteed host status. What needs to happen for that?
- Win, obviously. But getting Ohio State (40) on Saturday and Indiana (24) on Sunday is ideal as they have the highest RPI’s of teams we could potentially face. Go 2-0 against those teams and that helps quite a bit. Indiana has to beat Illinois today and then Purdue twice to get a shot at Minnesota. Unlikely, but if they do you would see their RPI improve which would help Minnesota even more.
- SEC - Auburn over Ole Miss today would be helpful. The Rebels are likely a top-8 team right now, so the sooner they lose the better. Also, in this conference we would prefer Florida to just win out. They’ll be a top-8 regardless, so win out and don’t let other teams move up. Arkansas losing to Florida and then again to LSU would be helpful as well. The Hogs are likely a top-8, but losing back to back games might bump them out.
- ACC - Georgia Tech over North Carolina would knock the Tar Heels out of top-8 status. They already will not advance in the ACC Tourney, but today is just a chance to get a win. NC State over Florida State today would ensure that the Wolfpack advance, and it would keep Florida State from sneaking into top-8 territory. Minnesota does not want Clemson or Florida State to win this league title, anybody else would be just fine.
- Big 12 - All of the top seeds are knocked out. West Virginia beating Texas Tech today would be really helpful. If that happens, we don’t really care what happens in the rest of this tourney.
- Pac 12 - nothing really matters here. Stanford and Oregon State seem locks to be top-8 and nobody else is threatening.
So a simple recap of all that we need to fall in our favor, ranked in my opinion of most important...
- Georgia Tech over North Carolina (2:00 CST)
- West Virginia over Texas Tech (7:00 CST)
- NC State over Florida State (6:00 CST)
- Auburn over Ole Miss AND Texas A&M over Ole Miss (3:00 CST and then Saturday)
- Florida over Arkansas AND LSU over Arkansas (10:00 AM CST and then TBD)
- Ohio State beating Michigan - gives Minnesota higher RPI opponent on Saturday (3:30)
- Indiana beating Illinois then Purdue and then Purdue again - better RPI opponent (7:30)
Fingers crossed. But again...we are a lock for the Tourney and VERY likely a regional host. So now we are just getting greedy.