May 31, 2009

click here for Regional Capsules

click here for Sunday Regional Scores


McCallum, Gophers Escape Bears

By Robert Stewart
Special to

BATON ROUGE, La. – A 10-run lead almost wasn’t enough for Minnesota against Baylor on Sunday.


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 thing.”


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 season.

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 seventh inning.


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).