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McCallum, Gophers Escape Bears
By Robert Stewart
Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com
BATON ROUGE, La. – A
10-run lead almost wasn’t enough for Minnesota against Baylor on
The Gophers pulled away from the Bears with 10
runs in the final two innings for a 15-12 win in Game 5 of the
Baton Rouge Regional at Alex Box Stadium.
But the Gophers almost squandered a 15-5 lead in
the bottom of the ninth inning. Baylor scored seven runs on
eight hits in the bottom of the ninth to give Minnesota quite a
scare, but Drew Bias grounded out to end the game.
Minnesota senior starter Chauncy Handran went
eight innings for the Gophers, giving up nine runs on 11 hits
with seven strikeouts. But Handran was pulled in the ninth after
giving up five straight hits, including a RBI single by Bias.
The single was Bias’ first hit of the year.
“Coming into the game, I had some pre-game
jitters,” Handran said. “My pitches started to come in around
the fourth and fifth inning. After that I really settled down
and got used to the weather. From then on I was able to do my
Handran was pulled for freshman Austin Lubinsky,
who gave up a grand slam to Bears pinch-hitter Kenton Gedwed two
batters later. The slam was Gedwed’s first home run of the
Lubinsky gave up one more hit before being
replaced by sophomore Luke Rasmussen.
Rasmussen retired the next two batters he faced
but gave up an RBI single to left fielder Ben Booker before
inducing the game-ending groundout by Bias.
The Gophers gave up seven straight hits in the
inning before recording their first out.
“Austin Lubinsky warmed up the whole game from
about the fourth or fifth inning on,” Minnesota coach John
Anderson. “I don’t know if there was much left in there in the
tank, but we didn’t want to warm up another guy.”
The Baylor pitching staff got a big boost from
starter Jon Ringenberg, who easily picked up one of the best
starts of his career. He went a career-high 6.2 innings, giving
up five runs on nine hits and a career-high nine strikeouts.
Baylor eventually used four relievers, who combined to throw 66
pitches in 2.1 innings while surrendering 10 runs on seven hits.
“What I was planning on doing was going with
[Logan] Verrett to start this game and try to do it with him and
[sophomore Craig] Fritsch,” Baylor coach Steve Smith said. “Jon
actually got two outs more than I budgeted. I couldn’t get the
rest out of them what I had hoped I could get.”
Things got off to a quick start offensively.
Minnesota second baseman Derek McCallum launched a two-run home
run to right field in the top of the first inning off Ringenberg,
his 18th on the season. The star infielder finished
with four hits and seven RBI.
But Baylor responded in the bottom half with a
two-out, two-RBI single by Booker.
Baylor pulled ahead, 5-2, in the bottom of the
fourth behind a three-run, four-hit inning. After Dan Evatt
reached first on a single, Booker knocked a base hit to right
field and advanced to second on an error by Gophers right
fielder Michael Kvasnicka. Kvasnicka was trying to throw Evatt
out at third base, but his throw hit Evatt in the back. Lambert
followed with a two-run single up the middle and advanced to
second on the throw, and catcher Gregg Glime brought him home
with a RBI double.
“In pregame, coach [Mitch] Thompson told us to
bring our bats up and score a lot of runs, and that’s what we
tried to do,” Booker said.
Minnesota tied the game at 5 in the top of the
With one out, AJ Pettersen singled to left and
McCallum followed by slapping a base hit to left. Booker
attempted to field McCallum’s hit, but the ball bounced off his
glove and went into the left-field bleachers in foul territory.
The play was ruled a double for McCallum and an error on Booker.
McCallum was awarded third base on the error, and Pettersen
scored from first base.
Kvasnicka didn’t exactly care about the previous
play’s ruling – he blasted Minnesota’s second two-run homer of
the day to right field.
“McCallum and of course Kvasnicka got a couple
big hits for us,” Anderson said.
Baylor appeared to have a runner at second base
with no outs in the bottom of the seventh. Third baseman Raynor
Campbell singled and advanced to second on what was originally
called a balk.
But Campbell was put back at first base after the
umpires conferred and changed the call.
Campbell was eventually caught stealing second by
Minnesota catcher Kyle Knudson to end the inning.
Pettersen put the Gophers ahead for good in the
top of the eighth on a bases-loaded RBI single with one out.
McCallum then came up with another big hit, cranking a two-run
double to deep center field, and Knudson followed with a two-run
single for a 10-5 lead.
“We were able to put up some big, crooked numbers
in the last three innings,” Anderson said. “We’ve won a lot of
games this year in the last three innings.”
Minnesota picked up five more runs in the top of
the ninth. Baylor reliever Ross Speed first issued a
bases-loaded walk to start the Gophers scoring in the frame.
McCallum followed with another two-run double, this time to left
field, for a 13-5 lead. The Gophers tacked on two more runs when
Knudson reached on an error by Campbell.
And then the Bears followed with their furious
rally that came up a little short.
“You can’t stop believing,” Booker said.
“Everybody has that ‘Don’t give up’ attitude, and I think it
showed, but it just came up short. It was good when [Coach
Smith] put all the seniors in, and some of those guys get hits
in their last at-bats.”
Baylor’s season ends after a controversial bid to
the NCAA tournament. The Bears finished eighth in the Big 12
regular season standings but went 2-1 in the Big 12 conference
tournament to earn a trip to postseason play.
“I’ve never seen a group of players so committed
to a cause,” Smith said. “They’ve been the easiest group of guys
to manage I’ve ever been around.”
Paid attendance for the game was 9,134, actual
attendance was 1,639…Game time was 3 hours, 32 minutes…Minnesota
will start junior right-hander Allen Bechstein (0-0, 8.84 ERA)
against LSU at 6 p.m. in the championship round, while LSU will
counter with senior right-hander Louis Coleman (11-2, 2.84 ERA).