Midwest Notebook: Gophers Show PotentialFeatured
• Dissecting Minnesota-Dallas Baptist
• Midwest Notes From A-to-Z
• Weekend Look Ahead
DALLAS — Minnesota traveled to the Lone Star State last weekend to take on Dallas Baptist in one of the more interesting early-season series for fans of Midwestern baseball. With each club boasting several high velocity arms, quality starters and some depth in the pen, the three-game set had all the makings of a weekend-long pitching battle between two teams poised to compete for their respective conference titles. Ultimately, the Patriots grabbed the series with a hard-fought 7-5 win on Sunday after the teams split the first two contests (9-0 DBU on Friday and 9-7 Minnesota on Saturday).
As you might expect from a 37-run weekend, there were highs and lows from the mound on both sides and, on the bright side, we certainly got our share of radar gun highlights, with three separate hurlers qualifying for David Seifert’s weekly Heat Sheet and 13 total arms reaching at least 92 mph. The Patriots staff notched two solid starts from seniors Jordan Martinson (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB and 8 SO) and MD Johnson (6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 BB and 9 SO) in the Friday and Sunday wins, respectively. Martinson used advanced command of a lively upper-80s fastball and two-plane mid-70s curve to keep the Gophers off-balance all night, while Johnson worked primarily off of an 88-to-92 mph heater and hard, above-average 82-to-84 mph slider with tough plane deception off the fastball to avoid hard contact. Sophomore Luke Eldred pumped low-90s fastballs touching 95 mph in Saturday’s start and showed a good mid-80s changeup and a promising 11-to-5 low-70s curve, but struggled to put hitters away and was eventually chased after taking 70 pitches to get through 3.1 innings or work.
Sophomore Burl Carraway stole the show out of the pen for DBU with a highly impressive two inning outing on Sunday in which the lefty sat 93-to-95 mph with the fastball, touching 97, while snapping off a plus mid-70s two-plane curve for a second look. The southpaw held Minnesota scoreless and struck out two. Junior righty, and San Jacinto transfer, MacGregor Hines closed out the game and the series with a three-strikeout ninth, but only after DBU made things interesting with an error and two unearned runs crossing the plate to pull the game to within two. Hines recorded all three of his strikeouts on mid-80s sliders – two buried under the hands of left-handed bats. There were inconsistencies out of the pen – particularly on Saturday where the Patriot relievers allowed a combined 8 hits and 6 walks in 5.2 innings of work – but overall it was a strong performance from a deep collection of arms, totaling 31 strikeouts in 27 innings of work.