Saturday, April 4, 2009

Gophers Defeat Buckeyes 7-5 in Series Opener

In the first of three battles between ranked teams that are tops in the Big Ten in hitting and pitching, respectively, Minnesota defeated Ohio State, 7-5, Friday at the Humbert H. Humphrey Metrodome before 821 fans.

The Golden Gophers, leading the Big Ten in ERA (4.06), opponents’ batting average (.257) and fewest walks (62), got a terrific performance from starter Chauncey Handran, who limited Ohio State to two runs on seven hits through seven innings, to improve to 15-8 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten. Handran improves to 5-1 with the win.

The Buckeyes, first in the conference in slugging (.529), hits (331), runs (242) and second in average (.340), had a season-low one extra base hit and dropped their second consecutive game to fall to 21-6 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten. It was the first time all season the team had lost consecutive games.

Alex Wimmers went 6.2 innings for the Buckeyes before he left the game during a three-run Minnesota seventh that extended the Gophers’ lead to 7-2. Wimmers gave up 10 hits while walking three and striking out 10. His record drops to 5-1 on the season.

Zach Hurley, one of three offensive leaders for the Buckeyes with thee hits and two RBI, hit his Big Ten-leading 34th RBI of the season in the third inning to give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead. Scoring from third was Ryan Dew, who led off the inning with a single. For the game, Dew had two hits, two RBI and three runs scored. Michael Arp also had a pair of hits and an RBI for the Buckeyes.

Minnesota charged back with three runs in its half of the third. Singles by Justin Gominsky and Matt Nohelty preceded a triple to right center by A.J. Pettersen. A Wimmers wild pitch during the next at-bat allowed Pettersen to score from third for a 3-1 Minnesota lead.

The Buckeyes came back and put two on via walks in the fourth with one down, but Handran got a strikeout and then a ridiculous play by shortstop A.J. Pettersen to save a run and end the inning. Dew, Ohio State’s hottest hitter with 15 hits in his last 28-at bats (.538), smacked a ball up the middle that Pettersen dove for behind second base. He made a backhanded stab to grab the ball, and still completely laid out on the turf, somehow backhand-flipped the ball to second baseman Derek McCallum for the force play at second.

The Gophers manufactured a run in the sixth on a single, a sacrifice bunt, another single and a fielder’s choice to increase the lead to 4-1.

Ohio State loaded the bases with one out in the seventh on a hit batsman – Dew – and consecutive singles by Arp and Matt Streng. Hurley’s second single of the game, a blooper to right, scored Dew from third, but that would be the only run of the inning as Handran got an inning-ending double play to end the threat with Minnesota still leading, 4-2.

Ohio State finally pieced together a big inning after Minnesota’s three-run seventh. Dew banged another single up the middle with two down in the eighth inning to drive in Michael Stephens and Dan Burkhart and bring the Buckeyes to within 7-4. When sure-fielding Eric Decker couldn’t grab a line drive that turned into a double by Arp, Dew scored from first to make the score 7-5 and Arp had the first extra-base hit of the game for the Buckeyes.

The Buckeyes loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but reliever Stott Maytas got a strikeout and a flyout to end the game and earn his third save of the year.

Both teams totaled 10 hits and there were no errors.

Ohio State Release & Game Notes

Box Score

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