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Minnesota blasts UCLA to advance to Super Regionals

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Gophers advance past regional round for first time since 1977

Alex Boxwell (2) was named to the All-Region team.

Minnesota is Super Regional bound!

The Gophers outlasted UCLA in the championship game of the NCAA Minneapolis Regional to advance to the school’s first ever Super Regional appearance, beating the Bruins 13-8 in front of a record crowd at Siebert Field. With the win, the Gophers advance past the regional round of the playoffs for the first time since 1977. A depleted UCLA pitching staff showed its fatigue, having played two games in one day, while the Minnesota bullpen depth was evident, and the Gopher bats never let up en route to the victory.

It was a slugfest from the beginning, with both teams needing to dig deep into their rotations to field a starter. And it was clear that each were in dire pitching straits, as runs were tallied in the first five innings. Little-used Jake Stevenson got the call for the Gophers, but couldn’t make it out of the third inning after giving up four earned runs on five hits and leaving the bases loaded before exiting. Reliever Jackson Rose tried his best to clean up the mess, but the Bruins pushed across three runs in the third to take a 5-4 lead.

UCLA was in the same boat, and having already used up their third starter in an afternoon elimination game against Gonzaga, were forced to go with Jack Ralston, owner of a sky-high 5.66 ERA. The Gopher bats were unfazed.

Terrin Vavra got things going in the first with an RBI double down the line, while Toby Hanson launched just his second HR of the year, a three-run blast in the second inning to reclaim the lead. Stevenson’s meltdown followed before Alex Boxwell hit his second homerun in as many nights to give Minnesota a 7-5 lead. They wouldn’t look back.

UCLA’s fatigue showed in the fourth as the Bruins were forced to turn to more inexperienced relievers. With fresh bats, the Gophers took full advantage with a six-run inning to blow the game wide open, opening up a 13-5 lead that effectively send the Bruins packing.

Terrin Vavra was announced as the region’s Most Outstanding Player, while Boxwell, Hanson, Vavra and Max Meyer were named All-Region.

As for the greater college baseball playoff landscape, the Gophers advance to the Super Regional round, which is effectively the Sweet Sixteen. The winners of each of the 16 regions this weekend are paired up in eight Super Regional matchups, where they’ll face off in a three-game series. The winners of each head to Omaha for the College World Series.

Notes:

  • The announced attendance was 2,425 fans, which set a record for the young Siebert Field. Standing room only, folks!
  • The winner of the Minneapolis region is paired up with the winner of the Corvallis region. Oregon State won that region, which means the Gophers are on to Corvallis for a series next weekend.