Gopher Baseball Kicks off 125th Year at No. 2/12 UCLA
Junior Tom Windle
 Minnesota (0-0) at UCLA (0-0)
 Dates/Times  Friday, Feb. 15, 8 p.m.
   Saturday, Feb. 16, 4 p.m.
   Friday, Feb. 17, 3 p.m.
 Game 1 Probables  MN: Tom Windle (LHP) vs UCLA: Adam Plutko (RHP)
 Game 2 Probables  MN: Ben Meyer (RHP) vs UCLA: Nick Vander Tuig (RHP)
 Game 3 Probables  MN: Jordan Jess (LHP) vs UCLA Grant Watson (LHP)
 Location  Los Angeles. Calif. | Jackie Robinson Stadium (1,250)
 TV  None
 Free Audio  Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Live Stats  Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Live Blog  Game 1 | Game 2 | Game 3
 Game Notes  Minnesota | UCLA
 Social Media  @GopherBaseball | Facebook

Feb. 13, 2013

John Anderson is in his 32nd year as the Golden Gopher head coach and 35th year overall at the University of Minnesota. Anderson currently holds an all-time record of 1,092-726-3 (.600 winning percentage).
• The Golden Gopher baseball team is in its 125th year as a Minnesota varsity sport.
• The Gophers went 29-27 on the season and 11-13 in Big Ten play. Minnesota finished tied for sixth in the conference and went 18-14 in nonconference play. Of the 64 teams selected to the 2012 NCAA Regionals, Minnesota faced five in Louisville, St. John's New Mexico State, Stony Brook and Michigan State.
• The Golden Gophers will open their newly constructed stadium, Siebert Field. The synthetic turf field was complete for fall practice with the first game slated for April 5, 2013 against Ohio State University.
• Minnesota returns 22 letterwinners from last year's team and lost seven, including Friday starter TJ Oakes, Sunday starter Austin Lubinsky and four-year starting third baseman Kyle Geason.

The Golden Gopher baseball team enters its 125th year as a varsity sport. Baseball was the very first athletic event ever to be held by a University of Minnesota sport, making it the oldest sport on campus. The sport started in 1876, but did not hold contests in certain years, including a large span from 1916-1921. Minnesota opened the Gopher baseball tradition in 1876 against the St. Paul Saxons and lost, 91-39. To put things in perspective, that same year, General Custer lost the battle of Little Bighorn and Alexander Graham Bell introduced the telephone. Mark Twain published his first review of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, while Heinz ketchup and Budweiser were introduced to the world. In baseball history alone, the National League of Professional Baseball was born, which included the Boston Red Stockings, Chicago White Stockings, Cincinnati Red Legs, Hartford Dark Blues, Louisville Grays, Philadelphia Athletics, Brooklyn Mutuals and St. Louis Browns.

The Big Ten Conference has released the 2013 Big Ten Baseball Preseason Coaches poll with the University of Minnesota pitted to finish fifth. Indiana, who made it to the Big Ten Tournament Championship, is predicted to finish first, followed by Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota and Illinois.

Three Golden Gophers made it to the Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch list. Gopher senior Andy Henkemeyer and juniors Dan Olinger and Tom Windle were selected. As a junior, Henkemeyer held the team's second-best batting average at .314. Holding the Gopher leadoff spot in the second half of the season, Henkemeyer turned it up in the last month of the season when he hit .367. Leading the team with 86 total bases, He also held a team-best 65 hits and ranked second in RBI production (27). Hitting in the top two lineup spots the majority of the season, he led the team with 31 runs scored.
Olinger led the Gophers with a team-best .318 batting average last season. In 201 at bats, he had 77 total bases, a team-high 34 runs batted in, 13 doubles and scored 25 runs. Starting in 54 of 56 games for the Gophers, the Great Falls, Mont., native held a 14-game hit streak, had 19 multiple hit games and six multiple RBI games. In his sophomore campaign, Olinger started 26 games at first and another 27 at third base. Playing in the Cape Cod League over the summer, Olinger saw action in 36 games, had 14 RBI and .265 batting average.
Windle is making his second-straight appearance on the Big Ten Preseason Player to Watch list. Although limited in 2012 with an injury, Windle made 18 appearances and four starts as a sophomore. Holding a 3.27 earned runs average, he saw action in 12 league games, all in relief. Named Baseball America's Big Ten Preseason Pitcher of the Year, Windle competed in the Cape Cod League and was selected to the All-Star game. In his seven games with the Brewster Whitecaps, Windle pitched 38.1 innings and had 47 strikeouts.

After the UCLA road series, Minnesota will be home for the next 17-straight games. On the season, the Gophers have 37 home games, 21 of which will be played in the Metrodome. Minnesota also plays 16 games at the newly constructed Siebert Field. Minnesota played 39 home games last season, a program high.

Minnesota held the Siebert Field groundbreaking ceremony on June 11, 2012 and will move into its new home with the opener set for April 5 against Ohio State (Big Ten home opener). The field is named after legendary coach Dick Siebert, who led the Gopher baseball program to three national championships. The field was prepared in time for fall ball as the Gophers conducted their first practice on the new turf, Sept. 29, 2012. Phase 1 is now completed for a capacity of 1,420, while the Gophers are in the Phase 2 of donations for lockerrooms and hitting facility.

The Gophers return 22 letterwinners, while losing seven from last year's squad. Minnesota returns third-team All-Big Ten selections Andy Henkemeyer and Matt Halloran, along with first/third baseman Dan Olinger. Henkemeyer held a .314 batting average and had 27 runs batted in and held a team-high 31 runs scored. Halloran hit .307 on the season and had two home runs, two triples, 23 RBI and 19 runs scored. Olinger led the Gopher starters with a .318 batting average and held a team-high 34 RBI. Along with his team-leading 13 doubles, he also scored 25 runs.

Like last season, Minnesota has already been struck by the injury bug early this season. DJ Snelten, a 2012 Gopher weekend starter, is sidelined with an injury this season and is expected to be back in the Gopher lineup at the Big Ten season. Minnesota is also missing Alec Crawford, another potential starter for the Gopher weekend rotation, also  out with an injury. Last year, Minnesota had a different batting order in 54 of 56 games.

Minnesota will send Tom Windle (Friday), Ben Meyer (Saturday) and Jordan Jess (Sunday) to the mound this weekend. Windle returns to the weekend rotation after he suffered an injury during the 2012 preseason. He came back into the mix during the Big Ten Conference season in relief. Making 18 appearances as a sophomore, Windle saw action in 12 league games. Named Baseball America's Big Ten's Preseason Pitcher of the Year, Windle held a 3.27 earned run average last season.
Ben Meyer is coming off a great rookie season and is scheduled to start on Saturday. Named to the Big Ten All-Freshmen Team in 2012, Meyer held a 2.37 ERA in 38.0 innings pitched and 15 appearances. In his six Big Ten games, he held a 0.60 league ERA. On Sunday, Jordan Jess is scheduled to start. As a freshman last season, he appeared in 12 games and had five starts. In 24.2 innings pitched, Jess held a 4.01 ERA, struck out 22 batters and allowed 11 earned runs.

Just this month Sunday starter and sophomore left-handed pitcher Jordan Jess was a bone marrow donor. Tested at the University of Minnesota HopeDay Festival, Jess donated his stem cells February in order to save a life. Jess and other members were tested in the "Be the Match" organization. Just two months after a swab of the cheek, it resulted in a match. Jess and a majority of the Gopher baseball players were inspired by pitching coach Todd Oakes. He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in June, underwent chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant September. He started coaching again in January with the team.

Despite losing first-round draft pick and All-Big Ten selection TJ Oakes to the starting rotation, Minnesota will be deep in pitching. Windle recovered from an injury and pitched late in the season. He saw action in 18 games, struck out 37 in just 41.1 innings pitched. Windle went on to become one of the best pitchers in the Cape Cod League this past summer. Kevin Kray was a shining spot as a Gopher reliever last year. He pitched 29.2 innings, struck out 24 batters and held a 2.12 ERA. Ben Meyer was named All-Big Ten Freshmen Team when he made 15 appearances as a rookie. The Gopher pitchers held the league's second-best earned run average in the Big Ten at 3.16. The Gophers ranked third in opposing batting average (.252), fourth in strikeouts (376) and fifth in innings pitched (506.1) following the Big Ten Tournament.

Minnesota opens the 2013 season against the UCLA Bruins this weekend. Ranked 12th in the Baseball America poll, fifth in Collegiate Baseball poll and second in the USA Today/ESPN poll, the Bruins enter the season as back-to-back defending Pac-12 champions. A College World Series team a year ago, UCLA returns a corps group of pitchers from last year's squad, including all four of its starting rotation. Friday starter Adam Plutko was named a preseason All-American by multiple organizations. An All-American as a sophomore last year, Plutko went 12-3, held a 2.48 ERA and stuck out 99 batters in 119.2 innings pitched. Also garnering preseason All-America honors is sophomore David Berg. As a rookie last season, Berg pitched in 50 games as a reliever and set the UCLA record for single-season appearances. A first-team All-Freshman honoree, Berg was also an All Pac-12 last year. Also returning is Saturday starter and junior Nick Vander Tuig, who made 18 starts as a sophomore. Pitching in 109.2 innings, he held a 4.43 ERA and was named a NCAA All-Tournament Team honoree. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Grant Watson is the projected Sunday pitcher and made 35 appearances as a rookie last season. in 15 starts, he went 9-2 on the season after starting midweek and moving into the weekend role.

Minnesota looks to continue its strong tradition of fielding. In 2012,  Minnesota broke a school record with a .976 fielding percentage. Minnesota led the Big Ten in that category and finished second in assists (682), fifth in putouts (1519) and last in errors (54). The Golden Gophers bettered their .969 clip for the 2011 season to rank third in the Big Ten. The Gophers' previous record best was in 2010 with a .974. Minnesota also held a .971 percentage in 2009.




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