2016 Season Preview: Left-Handed Pitchers
Feb. 16, 2016

There has been a plethora of uber-talented southpaws to don the Maroon and Gold throughout the years. Most recently, current Minnesota Twins closer and two-time All-American Glen Perkins, as well as incumbent Reading Fightin’ Phils (Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies) hurler Tom Windle have each made their mark with the Gophers.

The talent is still strong on the mound for Minnesota and pitching coach Todd Oakes. He has five arms at his disposal that can make a large impact on the game.

Leading the crop of left-handed pitchers is a pair of seniors in Jordan Jess and Dalton Sawyer. Jess, who was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Watch List, trots out for his final campaign after a successful junior season. The Ripon, Wis. native led the team with 22 appearances and three saves while holding a 3.86 ERA. Jess struck out 25 in 25.2 innings and went seven straight appearances without allowing an earned run last April.

Sawyer, who was drafted by the Twins organization this past June, made eight starts for the Gophers in 2015. He touted an opponent batting average of .222 and a total of 38 strikeouts in 49.2 innings pitched. Last season, Sawyer through seven innings without allowing a hit at Creighton and combined with Tyler Hanson and Lance Thonvold to throw one of the 12 no-hitters in the NCAA last year. In his most recent outing, the Waconia, Minn. resident tossed 6.1 innings and struck out seven in a 2-1 victory against Michigan State.

The sophomore class of lefties is made up of one local product and one from the Rocky Mountains region. Jeff Fasching, a St. Cloud, Minn. native, saw action in seven games last season for Minnesota. He tossed eight innings and struck out four in his rookie year. Twice last season, Fasching hurled two innings and tallied two strikeouts – against St. John’s and Kansas State.

Lucas Gilbreath, a native of Westminster, Colo., was a primary relief pitcher out of the bullpen last season with 18 appearances and 28 innings pitched. The southpaw totaled 30 strikeouts and tallied multiple send-downs in nine of his appearances a season ago. His best stretch came in March when he pitched three consecutive scoreless outings at Florida Gulf Coast, at Creighton and against James Madison.

The coaching staff added to its depth by bringing in freshman Nick Lackney. The 6-4 lefty was a four-year starter on the mound for Whitefish Bay High School in Wisconsin. Lackney piled up the accolades by being selected all-state, all-conference, all-region and academic all-state. In one season, he accumulated five complete games, including three shutouts, posted a 1.08 ERA and had 82 strikeouts compared to only 18 walks. Lackney also played basketball for the Blue Dukes.



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