FIVE TEAMS, FIVE SERIES WINS
Minnesota has won its first five Big Ten contested series this year. The last time Minnesota has opened the Big Ten Conference season with five series wins dates back to 2001 and the first since moving to the three-game series format. In 2001, Minnesota opened with wins against Purdue, Indiana, Michigan State, Michigan and Iowa. This year the Golden Gophers won two of three against Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa and Penn State, while they swept Northwestern. Of the five series wins, four came on the road, with the only exception winning two of three against Ohio State.
BIG TEN NETWORK TO TELEVISE MAY 16 AND 17 GOPHER GAME
Big Ten Network will broadcast the May 16 and May 17 Golden Gopher games against Illinois. The games will be televised live from Siebert Field at 3:05 p.m., Thursday and 2:05 p.m. Friday. The contest marks the third and fourth Golden Gopher games televised on BTN and the fifth and sixth Gopher games this season as both games at Kansas State were on Fox.
WINDLE NAMED TO USA BASEBALL'S GOLDEN SPIKES LIST
Gophers' Tom Windle was one of 60 players named to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award, announced by USA Baseball. The watch list drops down to 30 semifinalists on May 28th and the winner goes to the top amateur baseball player in Division I. Windle is just one of two players named from the Big Ten as he and Indiana's Kyle Schwarber were named to the list.
DID YOU KNOW?
Minnesota's weekend pitching rotation has combined for a 13-3 record this year in Tom Windle, Alec Crawford and DJ Snelten. The trio leads some statistical categories within Big Ten play. While only starting games within Big Ten play, the trio all rank in the league's top 10 ERA (Big Ten games only). Windle has started in five league games and holds a 2.16 ERA in league action, while Snelten sits at 1.87. Crawford ranks seventh with a 2.22 Big Ten ERA. The Gophers are the only weekend starting rotation to have all three listed in the top 10 opposing batting average as well. Snelten ranks second in opposing batting average, holding his opponents to a .198 average, while Windle is third at .203 and Crawford is ninth at .230. Due to the shortened start against Ohio State and the lost start against Michigan State, Tom Windle still ranks second in the league in strikeouts (37), nine behind Northwestern's Luke Farrell (46).
GOPHERS IN THE LAST TWO BIG TEN SERIES
Although the Gophers as a team are hitting .265, they are hitting .277 in conference action. In fact, in the last two series against Iowa and Penn State, Minnesota has hit .332 and pushed across 49 runs and allowed just 26. In those two series, Kurt Schlangen has hit .435, while Troy Larson hit .421. Connor Schaefbauer has hit .350, while holding an on-base percentage of .519 in that span.
BIG TEN TOURNAMENT TICKETS NOW ON SALE
All-Tournament passes and group tickets to the 2013 Big Ten Baseball Tournament to be held May 22-25 at Target Field, home of Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins, are on sale now. All-Tournament passes are $30 each, while group tickets (minimum 20) are available for $7 per ticket. Single-game tickets will be available day-of-game only at the Target Field Box Office and are $10 each for adults and $7 each for youth, senior citizens and students with a valid college ID. Individual game tickets for the tournament can be purchased at the Target Field Box Office adjacent to Gate 29 starting two hours prior to the start of the first game each day. All-Tournament passes and group tickets are now on sale by calling the Target Field Box Office at (612) 338-9467 or (800) 338-9467.
The tournament bracket is set to be announced on the evening of Saturday, May 18, which is the final scheduled day of regular-season competition. The Big Ten Baseball Tournament is a double-elimination event that awards byes to the top two teams. The Big Ten Champion is the team or teams that finish atop the regular-season standings, while the Big Ten Tournament Champion receives the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship.
WINTER WEATHER BLUES
Like the rest of the conference, Minnesota has had its fair share of postponements and schedule changes because of weather. Due to a potential rain out, Minnesota played a doubleheader against Michigan on March 30 and cancelled the Sunday competition. Minnesota and Ohio State played two suspended games at Siebert Field that went into the next day of competition. The Gophers also had four midweek games compromised because of weather at South Dakota State (4/3), home against Winona State (4/9), St. John's (4/10) and St. Thomas (5/1). While getting in all three scheduled games against Northwestern, weather conditions cancelled the Gophers' entire home series against Michigan State. In 1965 and 1972, the program held its fewest games at 28. In 1972, Minnesota only played 14 of its 18 scheduled conference games.
ON THE DOCKET
Minnesota closes out the regular season at home against Illinois, May 16-18, at Siebert Field. Thursday's game is scheduled for 3:05 p.m., Thursday, 2:05 p.m. Friday and 1:05 p.m. on Saturday. The final game will also be senior day for eight graduating seniors: Ryan Abrahamson, J.T. Canakes, Drew Ghelfi, Andy Henkemeyer, Troy Larson, Kyle O'Shea, Kurt Schlangen and Billy Soule.
The Gophers hold a narrow lead in the all-time series against the Cornhuskers at 22-17-1, dating back to their first meeting in 1901. Minnesota actually fell to Nebraska four times last year, once in the DQ Classic and three-straight in Big Ten competition.
Nebraska enters the Minnesota series with a 21-25 overall record and a 12-6 mark in the Big Ten, after falling in two of three to Indiana last weekend. The Huskers boast one of the best hitting teams in the Big Ten. In overall action, Nebraska has hit .282 as a team, but in Big Ten Conference season, its hitting a league-best .335. Chad Christensen ranks fourth overall in all-game batting average (.380) and is hitting .487 in Big Ten competition, a conference best. He also ranks first in Big Ten games in runs scored (24), hits (37) and on-base percentage (.539). Michael Pritchard is hitting .380 in Big Ten games, while Rich Sanguinetti and Pat Kelly are hitting .360. Scheduled to start of Friday is Christian DeLeon, who has started 12 games this year and holds a .378 ERA with a team-best 40 strikeouts and 78.1 innings pitched. Saturday's starter Kyle Kubat has started in four games and holds a 1.75 ERA, while Sunday starter Aaron Bummer enters the Minnesota series with a 3.38 ERA, 13 appearances and 29.1 innings pitched.
THE LAST TIME
Nebraska won three-straight one-run games against Minnesota to sweep the Gophers in Lincoln. Neb. last year. Minnesota fell, 4-3 in the Friday game after trailing 4-1. For the second-straight day, Minnesota nearly erased a 7-1 Nebraska lead, but the Cornhuskers won, 8-7 in the Saturday game. Minnesota then fell, 6-5 as Nebraska completed the sweep. For the third-straight day, Nebraska jumped out early as Minnesota attempted comebacks. The Gophers trailed the game, 6-2 and tied a season-high 16 hits, but the Gophers stranded 12 on base for their 11th conference loss of the season.