As you now know, Gopher baseball is hosting their first NCAA Regional since 2000. We knew that information as of yesterday, now we know the four teams who will be here.
Dates and Times
The Regional will get started on Friday, June 1st.
Game 1: Friday 1:00 CST UCLA vs. Gonzaga
Game 2: Friday 7:00 CST Minnesota vs. Canisius
Tickets can be purchased through the U at THIS LINK.
#1 Minnesota Golden Gophers (41-13)
NCAA Hitting Rank: 17th (.300 average)
NCAA Pitching Rank: 9th (3.09 ERA)
NCAA Fielding Rank: 54th (.975 %)
The Gophers earned the host by winning over 40 games, winning the Big Ten regular season and the Big Ten tournament.
At The Plate: the Gophers have a deep, balanced and experienced lineup. Terrin Vavra led the team with a .385 average. But the 17th best hitting team in the country had 5 regular starters hit over .300. Ben Mezzenga was at .381, Luke Pettersen at .333, Toby Hanson hits at the bottom of the order with a .306 average and Eli WIlson hits .301 while catching. This group is better known for manufacturing runs, but has been capable of mashing when they get rolling a little bit.
On The Mound: This is where the Gophers had question marks coming into the season and those questions were answered. Reggie Meyer was always set to be the team’s Friday starter and he had a great season. But it was true freshman Patrick Fredrickson who came out of nowhere to go 9-0 with a 1.78 ERA and earned himself the Big Ten’s Pitcher of the Year award. This gives the Gophers two fantastic aces and a reason why they didn’t lose a 3-game series all year. Closing things out was another true freshman, Max Meyer. The team’s closer finished with a 1.45 ERA and 16 saves. The rest of the bullpen was quite good as well, with Brett Schultz and Jackson Rose being the names to know.
#2 UCLA Bruins (36-19)
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NCAA Hitting Rank: 54th (.286 average)
NCAA Pitching Rank: 4th (2.94 ERA)
NCAA Fielding Rank: 4th (.982 %)
Minnesota and UCLA faced each other back March at the DQ Classic in US Bank Stadium. It was a 6-1 win for the Bruins as Minnesota committed 3 errors, hit 4 batters and the lineup managed just 3 hits against Zach Pettway. But the Bruins went on to finish 4th in the Pac-12 and are looking to get back to the College World Series for the first time since 2013.
At The Plate: Three players led the way at the plate for the Bruins. Jeremy Ydens plays LF, bats lead off and was the team’s leading hitter with a .362 average. Second baseman, Chase Strumpf hit .357, led the team with 12 HRs. And also in the middle of the lineup is Michael Toglia who was third on the team with a .330 average and belted out 11 HRs playing 1B and led the team with 53 RBIs. Toglia and Strumpf are both sophomores and dangerous run producers in the middle of the order.
On The Mound: The 4th best pitching staff in all of NCAA baseball is impressive. Jake Bird (7-4) is their likely game 1 starter had a sub-2.00 ERA this year. Game 2 is going to be Zach Pettway who was 8-4, had a 3.51 ERA, led the Bruins with 74 strikeouts and beat Minnesota handily in early March. And they happen to have a strong 3rd starter in Ryan Garcia (7-1, 2.34 ERA). This pitching staff is deep! Minnesota is happy to have 2 aces, the Bruins have 3 excellent starters.
Certainly a tough out for the Gophers, but all of the 2-seeds are good clubs and when you are the 14-seed, you are going to end up with one of the better ones.
#3 Gonzaga Bulldogs (32-22)
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NCAA Hitting Rank: 149th (.269 average)
NCAA Pitching Rank: 6th (2.96 ERA)
NCAA Fielding Rank: 2nd (.985 %)
The Bulldogs won their first West Coast Conference Tournament title since 2009 and earned their way into their 10th NCAA Tournament appearance.
At The Plate: A team that is really more known for outstanding pitching and defense, only 1 Bulldog made the All-West Coast Conference teams. Ernie Yake started 52 games at 3B, led the team in hitting with a .321 average. Jake Vieth is the team’s 1B, led the team with 8 HRs and was second with a .296 average. Trube Branson also had 8 HRs, led the team with 36 RBIs and plays CF.
On The Mound: Daniel Bies leads the way on the mound for Gonzaga after earning 1st Team All-WCC honors. The junior is an intimidating 6’8” on the mound and finished with a 7-4 record in 15 starts and had 115 strikeouts. Up next is probably freshman Alek Jacob who had 90 Ks to go with a 2.94 ERA. And then Mac Lardner who was 2nd team All-WCC after finishing 6-3 with a 2.70 ERA. Casey Legumina is the Bulldog closer who was also 1st team All-WCC and had a 2.09 ERA, 13 saves and 52 Ks in 47 1⁄3 innings pitched.
The second best fielding team in the country and also top-6 in pitching. This team can beat anybody, but expect their wins to come in low-scoring affairs.
#4 Canisius Golden Griffins (35-20)
NCAA Hitting Rank: 68th (.283 average)
NCAA Pitching Rank: 99th (4.31 ERA)
NCAA Fielding Rank: 184th (.967 %)
The Golden Griffins are playing in only their third NCAA Tournament overall, but all three have come since 2013.
At The Plate: Liam Wilson is the team’s 1B, typically hitting second in the lineup and led the team with a .360 average. Wilson also belted 9 HRs and led the team with 52 runs scored. Ryan Stekl hits third, plays third base and was the team leader in HRs and RBIs with 10 and 62 respectively. Both Wilson and Stekl were 1st team All-MAAC.
On The Mound: No surprise that the MAAC’s top team has the league’s best pitcher. J.P. Stevenson will be the team’s game 1 starter and the senior lefty earned the MAAC pitcher of the year award after going 10-1 with a 2.54 ERA. His 92 strikeouts and opponent batting average were both second in the MAAC. Andrew Sipowicz would likely be the team’s game 2 starter. He worked to a 7-1 record but posted a 5.10 ERA along the way. In the bullpen, Tyler Smith won the MAAC’s relief pitcher of the year award after notching 10 saves and a 1.06 ERA.
It looks like Minnesota will have their hands full with the Golden Griffin’s #1 starter. Stevenson got the win against Ohio State earlier in the year, got a win against West Virginia and pitched well against NC State as Canisius got the win but Stevenson didn’t finish 5 innings.
Super Regional Opponents
The winner of the Minneapolis Regional will face the winner of the Corvallis Regional. Oregon State is hosting that regional and is the 3 overall seed. After the Beavers it is 2-LSU, 3- San Diego State and 4-Northwestern State in this Regional.
Full NCAA Bracket can be found here.