Gophers Send Off Siebert Field in Grand Fashion

Go Gophers! Kyle Geason and Peterson from the 1944 team
Go Gophers!
Kyle Geason and Peterson from the 1944 team
Go Gophers!

May 1, 2012

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The University of Minnesota baseball team took part in a historic event when the Golden Gophers earned a 9-2 win over St. Thomas in the final game at Siebert Field, Tuesday, May 1st. The only game at Siebert Field this year, there was a great turnout for the game as 1,421 people went through the gates. The Golden Gophers played in their 766th game at the stadium and recorded the 585th win at the facility. Renamed Siebert Field in 1979, Minnesota recorded its 458th win since it was renamed in honor of the legendary coach Dick Siebert after his passing in December of 1978.

Approximately 90 Gopher alums and their families came to the final Siebert Field game. Daughter of Siebert, Marilyn, threw out one of the ceremonial first pitches, along with former Gopher coach George Thomas and alum Terry Steinbach. Prior to the game, alums were allowed to take a few last swings at the storied facility, which housed the Gophers for the past 41 years. Following an alumni group photo in right field, Minnesota and opponent St. Thomas geared up for the game, which started at 6:35 p.m.

Andy Henkemeyer had a spectacular Gopher sendoff. He collected the final hit in Siebert Field on a grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning. Henkemeyer went 3-5 on the day, had a career-high five RBI and two runs scored in the leadoff position. Kurt Schlangen went 2-4 with an RBI, Kyle Geason was 2-5 with two RBI, while Troy Larson also had a multiple-hit game when he went 2-4. In all, Minnesota had 13 hits in the game and allowed just eight.

Senior Dustin Klabunde started the game and collected the last Siebert Field win. He pitched three scoreless innings, allowed just one hit and had one strikeout in his first start since 2009. Ben Meyer would follow Klabunde and would pitch two innings and surrendered two hits. Ben would be the second Meyer family member to pitch in Siebert as his dad, Bob, played for Minnesota from 1980-83. Kyle O'Shea would send the Tommies down in order when he pitched a scoreless sixth inning. Alex Tukey (1.0 innings pitched, two runs) and Ty McDevitt (1.0 inning, one hit) would see action later in the game. Billy Soule, who is also a second generation Gopher player, would record the final out of the game. Soule was one of the Gopher players who grew up at Siebert Field, holding the role as a Gopher bat boy from age 5-12 and would later come to the Gophers as a RHP. 

Minnesota's Kurt Schlangen had the first hit of the game when he bunted his way on base in the first inning. In the same inning, the Gophers would get on the board when Dan Olinger doubled along the left-field line and scored Matt Halloran.

Minnesota would then put up four in the second inning to take a commanding 5-0 lead. Bobby Juan led off the inning with a single to center, followed by Matt Puhl with a right side single and a Tony Skjefte walk to load the bases. Juan would score on a Henkemeyer infield hit to put the game at 2-0. Schlangen reached base for the second time in the game when he drove home Puhl on a left-field single. Geason would follow with a single up the middle and scored both Skjefte and Henkemeyer to put the game at 5-0.

Dorgan would break up the Gopher shutout in the top of the sixth inning when he singled in Thomas, while D. Reichert hit a sacrifice fly to score Kuzniar for the second run.

Henkemeyer would, however, send the ball flying over the right-field retired numbers wall for a grand slam home run. Hitting the ball just over the banner that was added for the event, Henkemeyer hit his second home run of the season, with his first of the year as an inside the park home run. After a Troy Larson double down the right field line, Skjefte got on base with a single through the left side. Bettenburg pinch hit and walked to load the bases. With two outs, Henkemeyer drove the ball on an 0-2 count to put the game at 9-2.

The Gopher lead would be all that the pitching staff would need to win the game. McDevitt came into the game in the eighth, while Soule closed out the event when he got John Means to ground out to second for the final out of Siebert Field.

Minnesota returns to action this weekend when it hosts Penn State, May 4-6. The Gophers will play at 6:35 p.m. on Friday, 2:05 p.m. at Target Field and 1:05 p.m. Sunday at the Metrodome.

Firsts and Lasts of the Final Pitch Game
-First hit of the game: Kurt Schlangen with a base hit bunt
-Dan Olinger: first RBI on a double to left field
-First run scored of the game: Matt Halloran
-First strikeout swinging: Dustin Klabunde in the top of the second against Tim Kuzniar
-First opposing run: Dylan Thomas scored in the top of the seventh on a RBI from J.D. Dorgan
-Last Gopher hit at Siebert Field: Grand slam for Henkemeyer to score Troy Larson, David Bettenburg, and Tony Skjefte in the bottom of the seventh inning.
-Last out of the game: St. Thomas' John Means on a groundout to second. Gopher pitcher Billy Soule was the Gopher pitcher to record the last out of the game and of Siebert Field.

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