Gopher baseball patiently fought their way to a 8-1 win over Ohio State Saturday morning to move themselves into the Big Ten Tournament title game on Sunday. No surprise that Patrick Fredrickson pitched a great game to keep the Ohio State hitters at bay. The Big Ten’s Pitcher of the Year went 6 innings, giving up only 2 hits and just 1 run.
Fredrickson gave up a solo home run in the first inning to Ohio State’s Tyler Cowles for an early Buckeye lead. The home run came with 2 outs on an 0-2 count, a frustrated Fredrickson settled down at that point and kept the Ohio State hitters off balance.
The Minnesota batters were getting themselves on base all throughout the early innings with walks, singles and OSU errors; but they struggled to get a key hit with runners in scoring position. Through the first 5 innings, Minnesota manufactured just 1 run while leaving 9 runners on base.
But in the 6th inning, Minnesota broke things wide open. A lead off walk was followed by a Toby Hanson triple for a 2-1 lead. Luke Pettersen followed with an RBI single to extend the lead. OSU got a couple quick outs after those two runs and looked as if they might keep the damage to a minimum. But a few walks and a couple singles, all with two outs, led to the Gophers batting around and opening things up to a 7-1 lead after 6 innings.
At that point it was going to be a tall order for Ohio State to battle back from a 6-run deficit against Fredrickson. The Buckeye pitchers gave up 9 walks while the defense had 4 errors. With Fredrickson on the mound and the way Minnesota tends to not beat themselves, it becomes incredibly difficult to beat them with those kind of self-inflicted numbers.
At the plate, Minnesota was typically balanced and dangerous throughout. Eli Wilson called the game behind the plate and also reached base 4 times with 2 singles and 2 walks. Toby Hanson was 1 for 2 with 2 RBIs, Jordan Kozicky was 2 for 3 with 2 RBIs and Cole McDevitt was X for X with 2 RBIs.
The Gophers will play in the Big Ten title game Sunday afternoon against the winner of Illinois and Purdue who play this afternoon.
It sounds as though the Gophers will not attempt to use either of their aces in the title game as John Anderson is setting up his staff to be fresh and ready for the Regional next weekend. A Big Ten Tournament title would be outstanding, but winning next weekend is more important. They are a lock to host a Regional, regardless of the outcome on Sunday.
Ideally Illinois would beat Purdue this afternoon, forcing an elimination game and both teams having to play twice on Saturday before getting Minnesota on Sunday.
The championship game is Sunday at 1:00. Best of luck to the Gopher Nine going for their 9th Big Ten Tournament title!