Minnesota players get into a spirited round of pepper before their game vs. Hawaii.


3-Up, 3-Down; DQ Classic, Day 2

At The Ballpark

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This “best weekend of the college baseball season” is turning out to live up to the hype.

For example, as I write this, Texas A&M and TCU are in the 13th inning down in Houston. And it’s now 1:15am. We’ll keep tabs on that one as we go through the action across D1 baseball this Saturday. First, I’ll touch on the two games I saw at the home of the Minnesota Vikings.


Iowa continued to surprise me with another win over a very good Oral Roberts team in game one and Hawaii continued its mastery of Minnesota in game two. The Hawkeyes remain the lone unbeaten here in Norseland this weekend.

YESSS! Iowa players charge out of the dugout after disposing of Oral Roberts at US Bank Stadium.

Iowa – 300 101 020 – 7  10  0
ORU – 110 002 010 – 5  7  1

WP: Cole McDonald, 2-1
LP: Josh McMinn, 1-1
Save: Ryan Ericsson, 1

– Ben Norman, 3-for-4, 3RBI, HR
– Jake Adams, 1-for-4, 3RBI, HR
– Matt Hoeg, 2-for-3, RBI, HR, 3 runs

Golden Eagles:
– Matt Whatley, 2-for-4, RBI, HR, double
– Trevor McCutchin, 2-for-4, RBI

– Iowa: 6-3
– Oral Roberts: 7-3

Thunderous. Jake Adams was at it again on Saturday, blasting his fourth home run of the season and picking up three RBI in the win over Oral Roberts.

Leave it to the big thumper… again. For the second day in a row, Hawkeye first baseman Jake Adams went yard in 3-run fashion, parking a first inning offering into the touchdown seats in the east end zone, putting Hayden Fry U. up 3-0 four batters into the game and they never trailed from that point on.

Oral Roberts kept the game close with a run in each of the first two innings and then two more markers in sixth inning, closing to within 5-4. The Eagles were led, once again, by their catcher Matt Whatley, who hit his second solo home run in as many days and also added a double to lead off the sixth inning.

One thing the Eagles did right was getting their first man on base, a feat they accomplished in five of the first seven innings. But they never could get the big inning to make this a nip-and-tuck finish. The Hawkeyes got their most “comfortable” lead in the eighth inning when seven-hole hitter Ben Norman parked a two-run dinger off the big baggy in right field which made it 7-4. That was part of a 3-for-4 day for Norman, who also added two singles, one being of the run-scoring variety in the sixth inning.

Great leapin’ polliwogs! Hawkeye second baseman Mitchell Boe catches some air as the pitch leaves the pitcher’s hand.

The Hawkeye Dirtbaggers
I have to say, and maybe I’m a little bit biased here since I’ve seen them in person, but the Hawkeyes seemed to have one of the better infields this season, as shortstop Mason McCoy and second baseman Mitchell Boe showed great range on making plays deep in the hole behind second and also showing soft hands and accurate arms. Same goes for third baseman Matt Hoeg, who was adept with the glove.

A few more images from today’s first game

Shortstop Mason McCoy makes a ragout of ORU’s TrevorMcCutchin on an attempted steal.


Oral Roberts catcher Matt Whatley kept the Eagles in the game with his second home run in as many days here in Minneapolis.


Iowa’s Matt Hoeg had a home run and scored three times to help push the offense.

Hawaii – 010 011 010 – 4  8  0
UMinn – 000 000 000 – 0  5  1

WP: Neil Uskali, 2-1
LP: Brett Schulze, 1-1
Save: None


– Jacob Sniffin, 2-for-3, RBI, HR
– Adam Fogel, 2-for-5
– Alex Fitchett, 1-for-3, RBI, HR

– Terrin Vavra, 2-for-4

– Hawaii: 5-5
– Minnesota: 5-4

He’s sniffin’ success. Eight-hole hitter Jacob Sniffin had a home run, an RBI single and a walk to pace the Hawaii offense in the win over Minnesota.

There wasn’t a lot of intrigue to this nightcap between the Rainbows and the Gophers. Just like Thursday night’s 11-2 route Hawaii put on the U, this one also lacked much of a pulse after just a few innings. Hawaii scored a run in the second inning with the help of an error and a wild pitch. Then in the fifth, the Rainbows strung together three straight singles, the last one from th beat of Josh Rojas, to push across a second run. From there the other two runs were merely window dressing to the final score.

The main reason for this lack of mystery? Look no further than Hawaii starting pitcher Neil Uskali.

No matter which direction Neil Askali threw, it usually ended up well for the Rainbows today.

The lanky lefty with the rubbery arm went the distance, holding the hot-hitting Gophers to just five hits and one walk in his 105-pitch effort. Only once in the entire game did Uskali allow back-to-back batters to reach base, which was with two out in the sixth inning where Luke Petterson and Terrin Vavra collected back-to-back singles. But Uskali snuffed the threat by getting Micah Coffee to fly out. Well, actually it was a brilliant sliding catch by Rainbow center fielder Dylan Vchulek.

The Rainbows countered with solo shot home runs by Alex Fitchett and Jacob Sniffin to account for the 4-0 margin. They sure have looked impressive in their two wins over the homestanding Gophers here this weekend and we’ll see if they can continue to carry that through the season. All I know is, this team has some bad-axe pitchers, who can really throw. Uskali and Thursday night winner Dominic DeMiero were at the top of their games here in Minneapolis. If they can harness that all season, watch out for the Rainbows.

A few more images from today’s second game.

There was a good crowd for tonight’s nightcap as 2,472 fans took the game in. Unfortunately when you play in a pro football stadium, that good crowd doesn’t seem to be so big.


Terrin Vavra was a force again, pacing the Golden Gophers with a pair of hits. He didn’t get much support though.


Goldy Gopher seems to be having his mind blown by this hip-swinging hula-hooper.


Caught up with John Anderson before the game.

On the difference between playing the Dairy Queen Classic here compared to those in the old MetroDome.
“They both play very similarly, to be honest. They have similar dimensions and you still have the baggy out in the outfield. The big difference for me is that there is a lot of natural light in the building from the glass all around. It’s kind of nice actually because when we came in here last week it felt like you were outside with having to play with the sun and having to deal with glare. When they play the early game tomorrow at 11 o’clock and the sun is out, you might have to wear sunglasses out there in the outfield. It’s also a whole different experience for the players and fans, everything is a whole lot nicer with all the technology and comforts.”

On using the temporary artificial turf mound:
“I wasn’t involved in the selection of that mound that’s out there. They (stadium management) wanted to have a two-piece mound because they didn’t want to store it in one piece. I actually wanted a dirt mound but the Vikings didn’t want us to have a dirt mound because they didn’t want to cut away the turf. We’ll probably get a different mound in here next year. We need a new mound at our indoor facility so we may split the cost and then just cart it over here for next season’s games.”

On next year’s use of the stadium for baseball:
“Next year will be a little different because they will have the Super Bowl here. And the NFL doesn’t want any events in the building two weeks before the game or till two weeks after the game. So next year the weekend of the DQ Classic will be the first weekend we can use it instead of like this year where the tournament is the middle weekend.” But next year will also be the Big 10-Pac 12 Challenge with us, Illinois and Michigan State and UCLA, Arizona and Washington.”

On the Thursday night game where Hawaii beat the Gophers 11-2:
“I thought that kid (Dominic DeMiero) was outstanding against us. I looked at his numbers from last year and it was no fluke, he can pitch. We were a good matchup for him because of all of our left-handed hitting and he threw three pitches for strikes and kept his fastball moving. I mean, I told the guys we’re not going to hit .380 all year. We swung the bats well when you saw us at Irvine but I think once we swept Seattle I think our kids were trying to do more, take longer swings and had bad tempo in the batter’s box.”

On Iowa’s performance so far in the DQ  Classic:
“I haven’t seen a lot of them so far but I know they’ve got a lot of new players and a lot of junior college transfers. I know that first baseman (Jake Adams) can really put a charge into any mistake you throw at them. They play aggressively and like to move runners. But I’ll be honest, I’m not surprised at their early success. Their staff does a really good job of teaching the game and how to play the game and their success is good for the Big 10. They beat Oral Roberts last night and I know they’ve got some injury issues but I think in the end Iowa is going to have a really good team.”

Minnesota coach John Anderson has been at this gig for 36 years now. He could probably do infield fungo with his eyes closed.

Enough from the giant Viking Ship in downtown Minneapolis, let’s take a swing around the country…

The best of the day in college baseball.

1- Stanford.
The 19th-ranked Cardinal took a pair of tight-knit games from No. 21 Texas, 5-2 in 10 innings and 2-1. Quinn Brodey blasted a three-run bomb in the bottom of the 10th inning secured the game one win. Game two saw Quinn notch the game-winning RBI single in the fifth inning and Chris Castellanos and Colton Hock combined for a five-hitter with 10 Ks in a brisk 2-hour, 18-minute game. It was Hock’s third save of the young season. Stanford won the series two games to one and improved to 9-3 and Texas dropped to 7-6.

2- Jared Poche, LSU pitcher
I keep wondering if the Tigers are going to move Poche into the Friday starter role, considering how dominant he has been. Today, he threw 7.0 innings against Baylor, holding the previously unbeaten Bears to three hits, no walks and – of course – zero runs, in a 4-0 victory. He now extends his streak of scoreless innings to 22.0 and he has allowed just four hits and two walks with 15 Ks. Opponents are now hitting a paltry .058 off him.

3- Radford’s Danny Hrbek. 
Good night nurse! What is in the college baseball water here? There have been a rash  of no-hitters and today Radford’s Hrbek added to the litter with a complete-game zero-fest over Quinnipiac, as part of a 4-0 win. The no-hitter was actually the fourth in program history, but it was their first to go a full nine-innings. Hrbek added eight Ks and no walks, facing just one batter over the minimum. Well done Holmes.

Honorable Mentions
– Long Beach State
Okay, it’s official. The Dirtbags are a team to be reckoned with. It will be interesting to see if they get any rankings love after today’s second straight win over  No. 8-ranked North Carolina in Chapel Hill, this time by a 4-1 count. The Dirtbag bullpen tried like the dickens to give the game away as UNC had baserunners all over the place in the last few innings. Carolina ended up stranding seven runners from the sixth through eighth inning on as the Beach played a game of brinkmanship. Then Chris Rivera finally came on in the ninth inning to stop the insanity and pick up his second save with a three-up, three-down frame. The Beach’s record is still a rather unsexy 6-4 and get this, next week they play Arizona State and TCU. Oi vey.

– Ryan Cleveland, Georgia Southern
The Eagle senior hit a top of the ninth grand slam to lift GSU to a 7-6 win at Memphis. This was Cleveland’s third career grand salami and was his only hit of the day, though he did manage to get on base with a pair of walks. But the Eagles would definitely need the cushion, because after taking a 7-3 lead on Cleveland’s heroics the Tigers roared back with three runs in the bottom of the ninth before succumbing.

– Tai Vanderford, CSUN pitcher.
Oh man, the Matadors pulled the trick again, winning at No. 17 Vanderbilt for the second day in a row, this time in large part to their starting pitcher Tei Vanderford. The junior righty threw a complete game, tossing 137 pitches and giving up just four hits, only two of which went out of the infield. Vanderford struck out eight and gave up three walks along the way. The Matadors improved to 6-4.

– Tristan Clarke, New Orleans
Talk about having a hot bat. The junior outfielder went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and a home run and accounted for seven RBI in a 14-0 win over Alcorn State. Oddly, a single was the only base hit to elude Clarke. Also, the Privateers won their second straight shoutout, the first time since 1995 that they have accomplished the feat.

– Mitch Stallings, Duke pitcher.
It was a limited engagement (just 5.0 innings) but man was this dude dealing. The Blue Devil lefty finished his short stint with 11 strikeouts and held Princeton to five hits and one walk in helping them down the Tigers 7-1 in game two of a doubleheader. Duke also won game one, 9-2.

– Steven Gingery, Texas Tech pitcher.
Man, this is turning into a tough weekend for the Rebels. Ole double T relied on their man Gingery and he delivered, holding Ole Miss to just five hits, one run and tallying eight Ks in 8.0 innings of a 5-1 win. Gingery only twice allowed a Rebel batter to reach second base through the first seven innings as his cohorts built up a 5-0 lead. He finally relented a run in the bottom of the eighth, but the damage had been done to the Rebs’ psyche.

The worst of the day in college baseball

1- Texas A&M
Gah! The Aggies had 7-1, 8-3 and 10-5 leads in their game with No. 1 TCU and still lost. In fact, the 10-5 lead was going into the bottom of the ninth inning too. Yikes. Three outs guys. That’s all you needed. Instead the Frogs scored five times in the bottom of the ninth and then got the game-winning run in the bottom the 15th at nearly 2am central time to pull out an 11-10 win. Ryan Merrill sliced the deciding RBI double to let the game mercifully come to an end. But again, the Aggies never should’ve let it get to that point. It could signal some of the pitching depth problems they could face this year after losing some high-quality arms from last year’s roster.

2- Virginia Tech
The Hokies had reached as high as No. 19 in one of the numerous college baseball polls, mostly on the strength of their 8-1 record coming into the weekend. But today, the Gobblers dropped a pair of 11-inning white-knucklers to Binghamton, 9-8 and 6-5. If you’re in the ACC and ranked in the top 20, you can’t go and lose a pair of games to an America East squad. Sure, the Bearcats are expected to be the cream of the crop in the AmEast, but it’s still no excuse. Including yesterday’s 12-5 rout, BU has now won three straight games going into Sunday’s getaway game. Tech has allowed 46 hits and 27 runs in the three games.

3- End of the Dartmouth-Miami game.
Controversy marred the end of the Big Green-Hurricanes game in Coral Gables as Dartmouth was called for a pair of ninth-inning balks, allowing The U to score the game-winning run in jog-off fashion. Here is how Charles Bender, the Dartmouth SID relayed the ending…

“With runners on the corners and one out, RHP Patrick Peterson turned to throw toward first base, awkwardly throwing in the vicinity of the base as he realized the fielder wasn’t stationed on the bag. Miami head coach Jim Morris then made his way toward home plate to inquire about a balk on the play, leading to the four-man umpiring crew to confer with each other. Following a long discussion the umpires made their decision and laid out the details for Whalen, who gradually became more animated in his disbelief. Once again his protests did not sway the crew and Gonzalez trotted home with the winning run.”

Dishonorable Mentions
– West Virginia pitching and hitting. 
The Mountaineers have had a good start to the season in 2017, but today was a different story as they dropped a 6-0 decision at Tulane, dropping their record to 6-4. In the game, Mountaineer pitchers walked 12 TU batters and the offense could only muster five hits and was shut out for the first time this season. Credit Greenies flinger J.P. France, who went 7.0 innings and gave up just four hits and two walks. It was France’s first win of the season.

– North Carolina State. 
Don’t mean to pile on the Wolfpack here, but today’s 9-2 loss to Maryland drops them to 5-5 on the season and four of their five losses have been to inferior opponents and by comfortable margins. What is going on with the Pack? Gah.
As I was finishing up my column, Minnesota-Crookston and Dickinson State were playing a middle-of-the-night doubleheader in US Bank Stadium. UMC won the first game 7-2 in a seven inning affair. But for the second game,  the Golden Eagles started a one-handed pitcher named Parker Hanson. The sophomore is reminiscent of ex-Michigan ace Jim Abbot, except he was born with his left arm stopping just past the elbow. But also like Abbot he is very adept at pitching and then putting the glove on his only hand and being ready to field. It was really cool to watch as he pitched into the seventh inning of the second game. And in case you are wondering, his fastball topped out at 87mph. Good stuff.

One-handed pitcher Parker Hanson on Minnesota-Crookston.

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