The Minnesota baseball team (1-3) shut out New Orleans (3-8) 7-0 in its first game of the Dairy Queen Classic on Friday, Mar. 4 at the Metrodome. It was the first shutout in the Dairy Queen Classic by Minnesota since the Golden Gophers shut out Arkansas 6-0 on Mar. 2, 2001.
Senior Matt Loberg (Anoka, Minn.) pitched seven and two thirds shutout innings, giving up three hits and he did not walk a batter. Loberg did not allow a runner to get past first base the entire game, as he picked up the win to move to 1-1 on the season. Dating back to his winning performance against Florida State in last year's Dairy Queen Classic, Loberg has now pitched 13 and a third consecutive scoreless innings in the Dairy Queen Classic.
Minnesota senior catcher Jake Elder (Delta, British Columbia) was two-for-four with a stolen base, a home run and tied a career-high with four RBI. Junior shortstop Matt Fornasiere (Maple Grove, Minn.), who reached base three times, was also two-for-three with two runs and two RBI. Fornasiere extended his hitting streak to 11 games dating back to the 2004 season. Mike Mee (Richfield, Minn.) was two-for-four with two runs.
The two starting pitchers had a scoreless duel going into the bottom of the fourth inning, before Minnesota scored two runs to take a 2-0 lead. Fornasiere started things off with a one-out single and moved to second on a Mee single. Elder followed with an RBI single that brought home Fornasiere and moved up Mee to third. Andy Hunter (West St. Paul, Minn.) followed with a sacrifice fly to push the score to 2-0.
Minnesota struck for three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to push its lead out to 5 -0. Fornasiere got things started again with a leadoff walk. Mee followed with a single to make it first and second, before Elder delivered a towering shot to straight away centerfield to move the score to 5-0.
The Golden Gophers added two runs in the bottom of the seventh for the final deficit of 7 -0. With one out, Sean Kommerstad (Minnetonka, Minn.) singled, and advanced to third on a Luke MacLean (Bloomington) chopper that went over the third baseman's head and ended up as a double. Fornasiere brought home both runs with a double to move the lead to 7-0.
Loberg was taken out after seven and two thirds shutout innings, and sophomore transfer Jon Mueller (LaCrosse, Wis.) continued to do the job for Minnesota with one and a third shutout innings and three strikeouts.
New Orleans starter Michael Jones took the loss, as he gave up seven hits and five runs in six innings.
The Privateers had four different hitters with one hit on the night, as Jason Schwab, Paul Smyth, Ryan Meyer and Mike Constantino each collected hits. New Orleans did not have one baserunner advance past first base the entire night.
Minnesota has limited its last three Dairy Queen Classic opponents, dating back to last season, to one run or less in the last three games. The Golden Gophers limited Nebraska and Florida State to one run each in last year's tournament, and shut out the Privateers tonight.
The Golden Gophers have now won four straight games in the Dairy Queen Classic dating back to last season. That ties a school record set in the 1994 & 95 seasons.
Earlier in the night, Pepperdine (7-7) upended No. 5 South Carolina (10-1) to hand the Gamecocks their first loss of the season.
Minnesota will take on South Carolina in its second game of the Dairy Queen Classic on Saturday, Mar. 5 at 6:35 p.m. The first game will feature Pepperdine against New Orleans at 12 noon. There will be a clinic in between conducted by representatives from each team from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m.