GOPHER HISTORY IN THE BIG TEN TOURNEY Minnesota is playing in its 28th Big Ten Tournament appearance, the most by any team in the league. The Golden Gophers also have won the tournament nine times, the last dating back to 2010. The last time Minnesota won the Big Ten Tournament title in the state of Minnesota was 2004 when it hosted the league's best at (old) Siebert Field.
LAST TIME IN THE TOURNAMENT The Gophers' last Big Ten Tournament appearance came in 2011. Fifth-seeded Minnesota followed up a first-round loss to No.4 Ohio State with three straight wins. The Gophers beat No. 6 Penn State, then won a rematch with the Buckeyes, then a 1-0 game against No. 3 Purdue. Minnesota's tournament run ended with a loss to No. 2 Michigan State.
GOPHER RECORD AGAINST BIG TEN TOURNAMENT TEAMS Minnesota is an even 6-6 against teams playing in the Big Ten Tournament. The Golden Gophers have not played against No. 1 seed, Indiana, the past two seasons. Minnesota won the series against both Ohio State and Michigan this year and went 1-2 against both Nebraska and Illinois this season.
NO STRANGER TO TARGET FIELD The Golden Gophers are no strangers to competing in Target Field since it opened in doors in 2010. In fact, the Golden Gophers actually played in the first-ever game in Target Field prior to when the Minnesota Twins played their first game in April 2010. The first-ever pitch thrown in Target Field was Minnesota's former RHP TJ Oakes on March 27, 2010 against Louisiana Tech. Since that first game, Minnesota has played on the field in 2011, 2012 and now 2013. When the H.H.H. Metrodome roof collapsed in 2011, the Minnesota Twins and Target Field opened its doors and allowed the Gophers to play home Big Ten games in the park. Minnesota played one game last year against Penn State, while the Big Ten Tournament is set this season.
MINNESOTA HOSTING THE BIG TEN TOURNAMENT The 2013 tournament will be the seventh played in Minneapolis, as Minnesota hosted the event in 1984, 1986, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004. 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.
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.
GOPHERS HOST ANNUAL BANQUET The Gopher baseball team held its annual banquet on Sunday, May 19 at TCF Bank Stadium. The Golden Gophers gave out eight awards. The Richard "Chief" Siebert Most Valuable Player went to a pair of seniors in Andy Henkemeyer and Kurt Schlangen, while Schlangen was also named the Paul Molitor Batting Champion when he finished with a .309 regular season batting average. The Dianne Olson-Ficenko Dugout Club Player of the Year was awarded to DJ Snelten, while Tom Windle was named the Dave Winfield Pitcher of the Year. Troy Larson received the Paul Fortin Scholarship/Athlete Award for the second-straight year. Senior Ryan Abrahamson received the George Thomas Most Improved Player Award. The David Chelesnik Award is presented to an athlete who best demonstrates the special qualities of courage, determination and perseverance that were exhibited by David Chelesnik. The special scholarship is given in memory of an outstanding student-athlete who died of bone cancer on Labor Day, 1984, after completing one year of a lifelong dream - to play for the Golden Gophers. This year's recipient was RHP Ty McDevitt. Billy Soule was also honored with the Teammate of the Year Award, which given to the players whose attitude and actions most represent that team philosophy of the Golden Gophers program.
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 15-7 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 seven league games and holds a 2.51 ERA in league action, while Crawford holds a 2.27 Big Ten ERA and Snelten sits at 1.90. The Gophers are the only weekend starting rotation to have all three listed in the top 10 opposing batting average as well. Windle ranks seventh in Big Ten opponent average at .226, while Snelten is nine (.232) and Crawford is 10th (.247). 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 (49), three behind Northwestern's Luke Farrell (52).
PITCHING DEPTH Arguably the strongest position for Minnesota is its pitching. Along with weekend rotation, Minnesota has four additional pitchers that could see starting action or log in some innings during the tournament. Minnesota has had seven starters this season, while Dalton Sawyer has seen action in long middle relief opportunities. Ben Meyer, who was in the starting rotation in the non-conference season and the start of the Big Ten schedule due to Alec Crawford's injury. He's started in eight games this year and has pitched 60.1 innings. Ty McDevitt has started weekday games for the Gophers and holds a 3.09 ERA in 15 appearances and 35 innings, while Sawyer has not started, but seen action in 17 games this year. The only Gopher that will not see action during the Big Ten Tournament will be sophomore Jordan Jess, as he suffered an injury and will most likely red-shirt the season.
SWINGING A HOT BAT Although the Gophers have struggled offensively as of late, senior catcher/right fielder Kurt Schlangen has been hitting the ball. In 17 at bats over the last six games, Schlangen has had six hits, a double and three RBI. Hitting .353 in that span, Schlangen has three RBI, five walks, two sacrifice hits and an on-base percentage of .522.