Gophers Knock Off No. 2 UCLA in 10 Innings to Open Season
Michael Handel went 3-5 with two runs batted in and two runs scored, while Dan Olinger went 2-5 with a RBI. Bobby Juan was 2-5 with two RBI as Andy Henkemeyer went 3-5 with a run scored. Tom Windle started for the Gophers and held the Bruins scoreless through the first four innings, while Ty McDevitt, Billy Soule and Kevin Kray came in relief. The Gopher pitchers allowed just six hits to the Bruins and left 12 on base. Minnesota had 12 hits and left seven on.
The two teams went scoreless for the first 3 ½ innings, although both teams threatened. In the bottom of the second, UCLA put two on with a walk and an error. However, with two outs, Tony Skjefte made a huge play to get the third out on a 4-3 put out. UCLA also threatened in the bottom of the third with a base hit from Kevin Kramer. He tried to stretch it out to a double, but Henkemeyer, Olinger and Tony Skjefte combined for a 7-4-3 putout to end the inning.
Minnesota had its chance as well when Matt Halloran hit a fourth-inning double to right center, while Handel followed with a single. Handel however, was picked off of first, while Juan struck out to end the Gopher threat. UCLA would also put runners on in the fourth inning when Pat Valaika led off with a single and moved to second on a bunt. After Windle stuck out Chris Keck, he walked Darrell Miller III, but the Bruins went down with a groundout to end the inning.
The Bruins plated two in the bottom of the fifth when Kramer doubled to right center, scoring both runners on base. Minnesota, however, tied the game when the Gophers scored twice in the top of the seventh. Handel led off the inning with a single to center. Juan lined one down the left field line for a double, which scored Handel from first. Juan advanced to second on a fly, as Skjefte scored Juan with a deep single to short for the tying run.
UCLA had another two opportunities to plate a run, but the Gophers strong defensive play came through to keep the score tied at 2-2 through nine innings. With a runner and first and third and one out in the eighth, Billy Soule stopped a hit up the middle and forced a play at home as Halloran tagged the runner. Then with the bases loaded and a 3-2 count in the same inning, Soule struck out Trent Chatterton to leave the runners on base. As the Gophers went down in order in the top of the ninth, UCLA threatened in the bottom of the frame. After a leadoff walk and a bunt to move the runner over, Minnesota intentionally walked Kramer to put two on, one out. Pat Valaika hit a chopper to third as Ryan Abrahamson touched third and threw to first for the inning-ending double play.
The Minnesota bats would come alive as the Gophers pushed across four in the top of the 10th. Skjefte started things off when he reached on an error, while Henkemeyer bunted his way on for two on, no outs. Olinger lined one up the middle for a RBI single as Skjefte scored. With the Gophers leading 3-2, Minnesota added another three. Handel hit a double into left, plating both Henkemeyer and Olinger for a 5-2 score. Juan stepped up and delivered Minnesota's second-straight double as Handel scored the sixth and final run.
UCLA used seven pitchers in the loss. Kray picked up the win, while Cody Poteet allowed three earned runs and the loss. Minnesota's four pitchers allowed just six hits, walked seven and struck out eight. Windle and Soule each had three strikeouts.
The Gophers and Bruins battle again at 4 p.m. CT. tomorrow afternoon. The game includes free audio and in-game blog.