Gopher Baseball Hosts Illinois In Crucial Regular Season Finale
Michael Handel
 Minnesota (29-18, 12-6 BT) vs Illinois (31-15, 12-9 BT)
 Date/Time  Thurs-Sat, 3:05 p.m./2:05/1:05
 Probable Pitchers
 Tom Windle (LHP) vs. Duchene (LHP)
 Alec Crawford (RHP vs. Castellanos (RHP)
 DJ Snelten (LHP) vs. Kravetz (RHP)
 Location  Minneapolis, Siebert Field
 BTN  Thursday and Friday
 Video  Gopher All-Access (Sat only)
 Free Audio
 Live Stats  Game 1  Game 2  Game 3
 Live Blog  Game 1   Game 2  Game 3
 Social Media  @GopherBaseball | Facebook

May 16, 2013

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.

Many teams will be looking to either solidify its Big Ten Tournament spot or get into the tournament next weekend. With the current top six teams advancing to the Big Ten Tournament, Minnesota will look to solidify its spot. In order for Minnesota to guarantee a spot in the tournament, the Gophers must win one game and seven teams are looking to make the tournament. The Gophers could also be in contention to take the Big Ten regular season crown. Minnesota Clinches share with two wins, two Indiana losses, one Nebraska loss and one OSU loss. Minnesota could clinches outright with sweep of Illinois, one Indiana loss, one OSU loss and one Nebraska loss.

A majority of the teams will look to control its own destiny this weekend. However, of the current top six teams, all are competing against each other this weekend.. Indiana (current No. 1) hosts Ohio State (tied for No.2), while Michigan (tied for No. 5) travels to Nebraska (tied for No. 2). While Minnesota (tied for No. 2) hosts Illinois (tied for No. 5), Michigan State is the only team that could work its way into the top six as they play Penn State, who is out of Big Ten Tournament contention.

Minnesota's weekend pitching rotation has combined for a 14-5 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 six league games and holds a 1.99 ERA in league action, followed by Crawford with a 2.06 Big Ten ERA and Snelten sits at 2.29. The Gophers are the only weekend starting rotation to have all three listed in the top 10 opposing batting average as well. Windle ranks fifth in Big Ten opponent average at .216, while Snelten is eight (.229) and Crawford is 10th (.238). 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 (46), nine behind Northwestern's Luke Farrell (52).  

The Big Ten Conference announced the sites for its 2013 and 2014 baseball tournaments. The 2013 Big Ten Baseball Tournament will be held at Target Field in Minneapolis, the home of Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins, marking the first time that the event will be held at a Major League Baseball facility. The 2014 tournament will be held at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb., the site of the NCAA Division I Men's College World Series.
The 2013 tournament will be the seventh played in Minneapolis, as Minnesota hosted the event in 1984, 1986, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004. The 2014 tournament will be the Big Ten's first in Omaha and the state of Nebraska.
Five different teams have won the Big Ten Tournament in the event's 31 years. Minnesota leads all Big Ten teams with nine tournament titles, Michigan and Ohio State each have eight, Illinois has four, and Indiana has two.

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.

Although the Gophers have struggled a little offensively lately, senior catcher/right fielder Kurt Schlangen has been hitting the gall. In 14 at bats over the last five games, Schlangen has had five hits, a double and a single. Hitting .357 in that span, Schlangen has two RBI, three walks and an on-base percentage of .526.

The Gophers hold a 104-97-1 (.517) all-time record against the Illini, dating back to 1900. Minnesota, however, holds a 49-48 slim lead in its home state against Illinois. The Illini won the series, last year by taking the first two games of the series, as Minnesota avoided the series sweep with a Sunday win.

Illinois enters the weekend with a 31-15 overall record and a 12-9 mark within Big Ten play (.571). The Illini, however, hold one of the nation's top RPI, sitting at 37. Illini is coming off a sweep against Penn State, but lost two to three against Michigan State two weeks ago. Justin Parr proves to be one of the best average hitters, not only in the league but the nation. Hitting .430 this season, he is batting .412 in Big Ten competition. David Kerian is hitting .321, while Jordan Parr is hitting .317 this season. Friday starter Kevin Duchene is the Big Ten's Pitcher of the Week after he threw a two-hitter against PSU. He enters the Minnesota series with a 2.64 ERA and a 7-1 record in nine starts and 15 appearances. Ryan Castellanos is the projected Saturday starter and enters the series with a 5.36 ERA, five starts and 22 strikeouts. John Kravetz brings a 4-1 record and a 4.27 ERA to the mound on Sunday.

Illinois took two of three games against Minnesota last year in Champaign, Ill. and Illinois Field. The Illini held a 4-0 lead, as the Gophers cut it to 5-4, but allowed two runs in the bottom of the eighth for the loss. In Saturday's game, Minnesota dropped a 3-2 contest to fall to 28-27 on the season. Minnesota, however, ended its season with an 8-3 win in the Sunday game for a win to end the season. Both Minnesota and Illinois finished tied for sixth and fell out of the Big Ten Tournament based off a tie-breaker.




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