Minnesota Shuts Out Illinois to Solidify Tournament Berth
May 18, 2013
The University of Minnesota baseball team defeated the University of Illinois 2-0 in the final regular season game for the 2013 year. With the shut out win, the Golden Gophers clinch a No. 4 seed in the Big Ten tournament and finish the year off with a 30-20 record and 13-8 in the Big Ten conference mark.
Ryan Abrahamson led the team in hitting for Minnesota. He finished the game with two hits, one of which was the game-winning RBI. He also scored a run. Michael Handel went 1-3 with a run scored, while Kurt Schlangen was 1-3 with a RBI and Andy Henkemeyer was 1-3.
Illinois got the first hit of the game, which came in the top of the second, but didn't convert a run. Despite having a runner left on base in the third, Minnesota went hitless until the sixth inning off of Illinois starter John Kravetz. Abrahamson got his first of two hits when he singled to lead off the sixth. After a balk, Abrahamson moved to second, but was out at third on an infield grounder to end the Gopher threat.
The Illini had a chance to score in the eighth inning. After back-to-back singles by Illinois with no outs, Snelten got Jason Goldstein to strike out on a failed third-strike bunt attempt. Thomas Lindauer then singled to left, loading the bases with one out. However, Snelten forced Illinois' Michael Hurwitz to hit into a inning-ending 4-6-3 double play as the Gophers kept the game scoreless.
In the bottom of the frame, the Gophers got things started with Handel singled through the left side. Abrahamson stepped up to the plate and delivered brought Handel home when he hit the ball the opposite way and just inside the first-base line as it landed in the right-field corner. Abrahamson moved to third on a Troy Larson sacrifice bunt attempt. Illinois took Kravetz out of the game, while J.D. Nielsen came into the game and got an out off a right-side infield grounder. With another pitching change to Drasen Johnson, Kurt Schlangen connected on the first pitch he saw and placed it through the left side for an insurance run.
The two-run lead would be all that Gopher pitching corps would need. Snelten came back out in the ninth, but walked leadoff batter, Justin Parr. Snelten was replaced by Soule to get the final three outs. Soule got Jordan Parr to strike out looking, while Brandon Hohl flied out to center for two down. Illinois stranded the runner when David Kerian, who had six hits already in the series, lined out to short to end the game.
The win solidified Minnesota's mark in the Big Ten Tournament, held next week at Target Field, May 22-25 (26th if necessary). Minnesota will hold the No. 4 seed and are set to play the Illini again at noon on Wed., May 22. All games of the Big Ten Tournament will be televised live on the Big Ten Network. The tournament is a double elimination.