MINNEAPOLIS – The Gopher Baseball team struck for a first-inning run but saw No. 11 UCLA pull away for a 6-1 victory over Minnesota in Sunday night's finale of the DQ Classic-Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge at U.S. bank Stadium.
Mistakes cost Minnesota (8-4) as the Gophers totaled three errors, six walks, four hit batters, and a balk to help No. 11 UCLA (9-2) score six runs on just three hits. Junior Jake Stevenson (0-1) allowed two unearned runs without a hit, suffering the tough-luck loss in 2.1 innings of work as he walked a batter and struck out two. The Bruins piled on in the middle innings, scoring in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth against a trio of Gopher pitchers. Sam Bridges came on in the sixth, steadying the game for Minnesota as he struck out two and did not allow a hit.
Fred Manke pitched the ninth inning, his first appearance of the season on the mound for the Gophers. While rehabbing an injury, the senior right-hander had doubled as Minnesota’s first base coach during the early part of the season. He allowed a double and a walk in a scoreless inning, picking up one strikeout in his return to the rubber.
“It was an exciting experience. I was a little nervous,” said Manke after the game. “It felt weird going from the coach’s box onto the mound in a matter of three days.”
“You pick up on things you wouldn’t learn on the bench,” Manke said of the experience of being the first base coach during the early part of the season. “I learned a lot more about the game and a lot more about myself. I can help the way in any way I can.”
Zach Pettway (3-0) tossed 6.0 innings in a victory for UCLA, scattering five hits and striking out seven while allowing just one run in the first when Terrin Vavra doubled to right center with two out and eventually came around to score on a single by Toby Hanson. Micah Coffey provided the rest of the offense for minute, as he went 3-for-4 with a double. Eli Wilson also had a single in a pinch-hitting appearance.
“I always liked the idea of having a challenge against some of the other ‘Power 5’ conferences. We’re isolated here as the only Division-I program in our state. We’re trying to improve our image as a league. This was a good start this weekend. We found out this conference has got some players in it, too. I don’t think there’s a big difference between the Pac-12 and the Big Ten today in where we are at as a conference.” – head coach John Anderson on the experience of the DQ Classic and the Big Ten coming out on top, five victories to four in nine games
Redshirt freshman Sam Bridges made his collegiate debut for the Gophers in the sixth, allowing a run after hitting a batter but striking out two to end the inning … redshirt freshman Jack Wassel came on as a defensive replacement and drew a walk in his collegiate debut.
ALL TOURNAMENT HONORS
Illinois claimed the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge victory with a 3-0 record on the weekend.
Following the conclusion of the tournament, a 13-player All-Tournament Team was selected based on statistics compiled during the nine games as well as the Silver Stick Award for the player with the highest batting average, the MVP Award for the most effective player on the winning team. The awards are as follows:
C: Jeff Korte, Illinois
1B: Michael Toglia, UCLA
2B: Michael Massey, Illinois
3B: Jake Hirabayashi, UCLA
SS: Terrin Vavra, Minnesota
OF: Ryan Haug, Arizona
OF: Justin Antoncic, Michigan State
OF: Kaiser Weiss, Washington
DH: Joe Wainhouse, Washington
SP: Jon Olsen, UCLA
SP: Cody Deason, Arizona
SP: Reggie Meyer, Minnesota
RP: Ryan Thompson, Illinois
Silver Stick: Mason Cerillo, Washington
MVP: Michael Massey, Illinois
Minnesota continues its stay at U.S. Bank Stadium on Tuesday as the Gophers host Omaha in Minneapolis. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.
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