Golden Gopher Baseball Season Off To An Unfortunate Start

Golden Gopher Baseball Season Off To An Unfortunate Start

Joshua Klopp, Vice President

The University of Minnesota baseball program’s season kicked off on February 17 in Surprise, Arizona. They were brought to Surprise by the Sanderson Ford Classic. The Gophers participated in this event by playing four games against three different teams. The results of the games are not the most positive, so let’s begin with some introductions.

The Gophers are led by their manager John Anderson. Anderson is astonishingly entering his 42nd season as the manager of the Gophers. He is the winningest coach in Big 10 history. He won his 600th conference game in April of last season. The Gophers are also led by some key returning players. Three Gophers were listed by the Big 10 as “Players To Watch” entering the season. Two of them are Junior Outfielders. Boston Merila and Brett Bateman. Merila and Bateman are the gophers best returning hitters and are the only players to play in every game last season. The third is Sophomore left-handed pitcher Tucker Novotny. He only pitched in six games last year, but is due to take on a large role this year.

The inaugural game of the season was against the #14 ranked team in the nation. The Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara outlasted the gophers in an offensive battle. The Gophers exploded for 7 runs, coming back from a 5 run deficit, but Guachos were too resilient and won 9-7. Unfortunately, scoring seven runs and losing was not an isolated event. It happened the following day. The Gophers played their second game against #18 ranked Oregon State Beavers. They also overcame a large lead in this game, but fell short in the end. Their third game of the weekend was against their initial opponent, UC Santa Barbara. This match did contain any comebacks, clutch hits, or any positives in general. The final score was 13-2. To cap off their time in Arizona, in pursuit of their first win, the Gophers battled against the New Mexico Lobos. This game was very evenly matched. There were two lead changes and the score remained tied at 3 after nine innings. The game went on into the 12th inning when the Gophers had a chance to take the lead, but were thrown out at the plate. In that same inning, the Lobos walked it off with a two-out single. 

A winless start to the season is undoubtedly a bummer for the Gophers and their fans. However, there is reason to be excited. The team will travel from Arizona to the beautiful and sunny city of Fort Myers, Florida. Fort Myers, the host of the Minnesota Twins spring training facilities, will be the location of a three game series between the Gophers and the Billikens of Saint Louis University. A billiken, Saint Louis’ mascot, does not have a concrete definition. However, it is described as a “charm doll” on Wikipedia and explained to be a “mythical good-luck figure” on the University’s website. The three games will be the first ever played between these schools.

Following Fort Myers, the Gophers will return to their beloved home state of Minnesota. US Bank Stadium will play host to a tournament, but before this, Minnesota will play a game at the stadium on March 1 against Milwaukee. On March 3, the Cambria College Classic begins. This event brings good teams together from across the country to play games indoors. The teams joining the Gophers are Vanderbilt, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Maryland, and Hawaii. The gophers will begin by playing Hawaii on March 3, #4 ranked Ole Miss on March 4, and Vanderbilt on March 5.

The Gophers ability to put runs on the board should give their fans hope. The Big 10 season begins on March 24, so the team will have proper time to find their form before conference games come around.