Countdown to Gopher Baseball

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Gopher Baseball Schedule | 2014 Quick Facts | 2013 Stats

It's only February, but we with the Gopher baseball team have spring on our minds. We are in the final stretch of the pre-season, ready to get on the diamond. This blog will count down the last week before the Gophers' first game on Feb. 14. Each day we'll post something about Gopher baseball that has to do with the number of days left. Play ball!

Go Gophers! #7 Kyle Crocker
Go Gophers!
#7 Kyle Crocker
Go Gophers!

7) There are seven true freshmen on the roster this year. Toby Anderson, Austin Athmann, Cody Campbell, Matt Fiedler, Brian Glowicki, Tyler Hanson and Joe Martinson all joined the Gophers in the fall. Anderson, Campbell, Glowicki and Martinson are all pitchers. Fiedler and Hanson can pitch or play in the field. Athmann is a catcher.

The following two releases were on when the seven signed with Minnesota: Nov. 29, 2012 | Jan. 28, 2013

Minnesota also has one other newcomer, pitcher Neal Kunik, and four redshirt freshmen in Joey Brettingen, Jordan Smith, Matt Stemper and Troy Traxler.

Who wears the number this year? Junior infielder Kyle Crocker.

Go Gophers! #6 Matt Halloran
Go Gophers!
#6 Matt Halloran
Go Gophers!
6) The Gophers will play games in six different states before their home opener: Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, California and Illinois. The trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., will be for Coastal Carolina's Chanticleer Classic, while the other trips will be for regular series. We will keep you updated with a running travel blog throughout the first six weeks of the season!

The longest road trip of the regular season will happen over spring break. The Gophers have a three-game series at Sacramento State starting March 14, an off day, two games at St. Mary's, a travel day and a three game series at Northwestern ending March 23.

This is Minnesota's first season without the Metrodome since the roof collapse forced the team to relocate nonconference games in 2011. That season, the Gophers visited four states before opening their home season at Target Field. They spent most of March in California.

Who wears the number this year? Senior catcher Matt Halloran. He started 36 of the 47 games he played in 2013.

Go Gophers! #5 Herb Isakson
Go Gophers!
#5 Herb Isakson
Go Gophers!

5) Ben Meyer won five games on the mound last season, making him the returning wins leader on the Gopher pitching staff. He had a 5-4 record and 2.80 ERA in 15 appearances, including eight starts. Meyer's five wins tied him with DJ Snelten for second on the team after Tom Windle (6). He was also second on the team with 49 strikeouts and 64 1/3 innings pitched.

The Gophers bring back five total pitchers who started at least one game last year: Alec Crawford (9), Meyer (8), Ty McDevitt (5), Jordan Jess (4) and Dalton Sawyer (1). Crawford's 10 appearances last season are the most for any returner. He went 4-2 with a 2.28 ERA, third on the team behind Windle and Snelten.

Who wears the number this year? No one on the current team. Long-time volunteer assistant Herb Isakson's No. 5 jersey is retired on the outfield wall at Siebert Field.

Go Gophers! #4 Connor Schaefbauer
Go Gophers!
#4 Connor Schaefbauer
Go Gophers!
4) Minnesota will host four Big Ten home series at Siebert Field in 2014. Come out for series against Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State and Purdue.  Minnesota hosted Nebraska last season, but the other three will be playing their first series in new Siebert.

Four of these conference games are scheduled for night starts. The first two games of both the Penn State and Purdue series will be played under the lights. Check the schedule for times.

Another note for No. 4: Head coach John Anderson was inducted into his fourth hall of fame this past fall. His most recent induction was into the Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame. The others that have recognized him during his career: American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, University of Minnesota "M" Club Hall of Fame, Hibbing Community College Hall of Fame.

Who wears the number this year? Sophomore second baseman Connor Schaefbauer, who was selected to the All-Big Ten Third Team as a freshman.

Go Gophers! #3 Matt Fiedler
Go Gophers!
#3 Matt Fiedler
Go Gophers!
3) The Gophers have three College World Series titles. They took home the championship in 1956, 1960 and 1964. Since this season is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 championship team, we'll focus on that one for this countdown.

Three was a big number in the Gophers' third CWS. Pitcher Joe Pollack earned three victories on the mound for Minnesota during the Series. All three were complete games. Pollack was a clear choice for the All-Tournament Team.

Ron Wojciak, Bill Davis, Dewey Markus and Dan Hoffman were also selected to the All-Tournament Team. At the time, Dick Siebert was just one of two coaches to ever win three championships.

We will have more on the 1964 team as the 2014 season goes on.

Who wears the number this year? Freshman infielder/pitcher Matt Fiedler. Fiedler joins the Gophers from St. Paul Academy.

Go Gophers! #2 David Bettenburg
Go Gophers!
#2 David Bettenburg
Go Gophers!

2) Two National Baseball Hall of Famers played their college ball at Minnesota. Dave Winfield was the first Gopher inducted in Cooperstown in 2001. Paul Molitor followed in 2004.

Dave Winfield was the 1973 College World Series Most Outstanding Player, and was also a first-team All-American that year, holding a 9-1 record and 2.74 ERA as well as a .385 batting average with 33 RBI. Winfield was drafted fourth overall after that season.

Molitor was drafted third overall in 1977 after an All-American season that ended at the College World Series. He held a career batting average of .350 and set what were then school records in  runs (112), triples (11), hits (159), home runs (18), total bases (254), RBI (99) and stolen bases (52).

In 21 seasons in the Major Leagues, Molitor amassed 3,319 hits, including 605 doubles, and scored 1,782 runs. He was also one of only six players to record 3,000 hits and 500 stolen bases in his career joining Lou Brock, Ty Cobb, Eddie Collins, Honus Wagner and Ricky Henderson. Molitor was the 1993 World Series MVP with the Blue Jays.

Winfield batted .283, hit 465 home runs and piled up 3,110 hits during his Major League career. He was a seven-time Gold Glove winner and helped the Toronto Blue Jays win their first World Series in 1992. Winfield never played in the minors.

Who wears the number this year? Senior outfielder David Bettenburg.

Go Gophers! #1 Tony Skjefte
Go Gophers!
#1 Tony Skjefte
Go Gophers!

1) This year's Big Ten Tournament will be the first held at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. The ballpark has been home to the College World Series since 2011.

It will also be the first Big Ten Baseball Tournament to include eight teams. The conference announced tournament expansion from six to eight teams last week.

The Gophers have won a conference-best nine Big Ten Tournament titles, the most recent coming in 2010. All nine tournament titles have come during John Anderson's tenure.

Who wears the number this year? Junior infielder Tony Skjefte.

That's it for our countdown! The season starts tomorrow in sunny Arizona. Information for the Gophers' opening series can be found here.

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