The Minnesota Golden Gophers Baseball team will get its toughest test yet of the Big Ten season when the #15 Indiana Hoosiers will come to Siebert Field for a three game series this weekend. The second place Gophers will try and keep pace with the first place Michigan Wolverines who are one game ahead. Indiana will try and make up for a bit of a poor start to their Big Ten season that sees them sitting in fifth place.
Minnesota comes into the weekend having won their last seven series this season. The Gophers took two of three games on the road at Ohio State last weekend before defeating Concordia-St. Paul in a midweek non-conference game last Tuesday.
The Gophers are winning games by a mix of both their bats and their pitching. Minnesota ranks 15th in the country with a team batting average of .302. They are 25th nationally with an on-base percentage of .396. Shortstop Terrin Vavra is 31st in the country with a .385 batting average, and left fielder Ben Mezzenga is right behind batting .378. Right fielder Jordan Kozicky enters the weekend with a nine-game hitting streak for the Gophers, and second baseman Luke Pettersen has reached base in 16 consecutive games for Minnesota.
The Gophers pitching staff are also nationally ranked. Minnesota’s team ERA is 3.36—good enough for 24th in the country. They are 17th in the nation in walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) with 1.22. .Freshman Saturday starter Patrick Fredrickson ranks 19th in the country with his 1.61 ERA and freshman Gopher closer Max Meyer ranks ninth with 11 saves on the year. he was just named to the midseason watch list for the NCBWA “Stopper of the Year” National Relief Pitcher of the Year award earlier this week. Gopher reliever Brett Schulze has eight pitching victories, the third-highest total in the country.
Minnesota is expected to start senior Reggie Meyer on Friday, Fredrickson on Saturday and most likely will start freshman righthander Sam Thoreson on Sunday.
Indiana comes into the weekend on a positive note after taking two of three last weekend from Illinois. They won the last two games of the series and snapped a four game losing streak that saw them lose to Ohio State, Purdue, and Illinois. Minnesota will need to deal with Indiana ace right-hander Jonathan Stiever on Friday night. He has a 2.63 ERA and has struck out 75 batters in 72 innings of work. Indiana will also throw two lefties on Saturday and Sunday in Cameron Beauchamp and Tim Herrin. Beauchamp has a 2.48 ERA in seven starts, while Herrin is 3-0 in six starts with a 2.93 ERA.
It will be a busy weekend at Siebert Field for the Gophers. Before Friday night’s game the Gophers will dedicate their indoor practice facility as the Glen Perkins Family Baseball Performance Center. Perkins is a Gopher alum who played for the Minnesota Twins and has donated tons of money to his alma mater’s program.
The Glen Perkins Family Baseball Performance Center is an indoor training space built onto the existing structure of Siebert Field. With three large doors facing the field’s concourse, the facility can be open during the warmer months, but closed to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout the winter. Inside, student-athletes have access to three batting tunnels, a video review system and a team meeting space.
Perkins and his family will throw out the first pitch before Friday’s game.
On Saturday afternoon Minnesota will honor the 20th anniversary of the 1998 Big Ten Tournament Champion and NCAA Tournament Team. That year’s team included All-American first baseman Robb Quinlan, Freshman All-America shortstop Rick Brosseau, and All-Big Ten outfielder Craig Selander and pitcher Brad Pautz. The team would finish with 45 wins, the second-highest total in program history.
Sunday is the Gophers annual Bark in the Park game. Dogs will receive free admission with a paid human, and the first 100 four-legged friends will receive a Golden Gophers bandana. Fans will receive a discounted $5 admission to the game with the donation of a pet food product.
Friday’s first pitch will be 6:30PM with Saturday beginning at 2PM and Sunday at 1PM. If you can’t make it to Siebert Field for what looks to be a gorgeous weekend for some baseball, Friday's game will be on BTN+ with both Saturday and Sunday airing live on BTN.