May 30, 2004
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Minnesota took advantage of Ohio State’s lack of available pitching to clinch its first Big Ten tournament championship since 2001 with a 7-3 triumph Sunday afternoon at Siebert Field. Minnesota became the first host school to win the conference tournament since the Buckeyes had won in Columbus in 1995. The loss prevented Ohio State from becoming the first school to win the Big Ten tournament three years in a row.
Ohio State was playing its fifth game since being sent to the loser’s bracket Thursday afternoon with a loss to Michigan. The Buckeyes responded with four straight wins, beating Michigan State, Purdue and Michigan before beating Minnesota 3-2 Saturday day to force a winner-take-all championship game.
Minnesota loaded the bases in the top of the first inning Sunday without an out, but the Buckeyes stepped up on defense limiting the Gophers to only one run. OSU starter Jesse Paciorek (Jr., Lakewood, Ohio/Lakewood), who had just two career starts as a Buckeye, gave up a pair of base hits and then walked the third batter to load the bases for Jake Elder, who’s sacrifice fly scored Luke MacLean to give the Gophers an early 1-0 lead.
The Golden Gophers scored a pair of runs in the third to take a 3-0 lead. Jake Elder delivered a one-out single to center field and went to second on a fielding error by Buckeye shortstop Brett Garrard (Sr., Brownsburg, Ind./Brownsburg) on a grounder off the bat of Andy Hunter. After a groundout by Mike Mee, David Hrncirik singled short to the gap in right-center to score Elder and Hunter as unearned runs.
After allowing only three hits in the first two innings, Minnesota starter Josh Krogman retired a string of nine straight batters. That included the final out of the second and the first two outs of the fifth before it was broken up with the fifth double of tournament play by Derek Kinnear (Sr., Kenton, Ohio/Kenton). The double also was the 13th double by the Buckeyes in the tournament, which tied the event record. Kinnear was the fourth stranded Buckeye runner through five innings. Ohio State’s best chance at an early run was in the second inning, when Paul Farinacci (Jr., Westlake Village, Calif./Agoura) reached third after walking with two outs in the second. Mike Rabin (Jr., West Chester, Ohio/Lakota East) doubled to right-center field to move Farinacci to third, where he was left there after a fly out by Kinnear.
The Gophers scored two more runs in the sixth to take a 5-0 lead, capitalizing on a leadoff double by Jared Sanders to the gap in left-center field. Sean Kommerstad followed with a single to left-center and then reliever Brett Hatcher (Jr., Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine), who was making his tournament record fourth appearance, hit MacLean to load the bases. He got Tony Leseman to ground into a 4-6-3 double play, but Sanders was able to score on the play. A wild pitch by Hatcher allowed Kommerstad to cross the plate for the fifth run.
The Buckeyes loaded the bases in the sixth inning with only one out, but could not get a run home and that proved to be costly for Ohio State. Steve Caravati (Jr., Dover, Ohio/Dover) delivered a one-out single up the middle before Minnesota starter Josh Krogman walked Cody Caughenbaugh (So., Newark, Ohio/Licking Valley). Garrard beat out the infield hit to his counterpart at short, but the Gophers turned a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of Ronnie Bourquin (Fr., Canton, Ohio/Canton South).
Hunter homered to lead off the Gopher seventh and give Minnesota a 6-0 lead. The ball sailed out of the park about 10 feet inside the right-field foul pole to give him his ninth long ball of the season.
Ohio State loaded the bases again in the seventh without an out, but this time scored three times to close within a 6-3 score. Five straight hits by the Buckeyes knocked in the runs. Farinacci got things started with a single to left before Rabin followed with a shot to right. Derek Kinnear (Sr., Kenton, Ohio/Kenton) loaded the bases with a bunt single back to the pitcher Brian Bull, who came on to replace Krogman against Kinnear. He gave up a hit to left by Anderson to score Farinacci and the fifth hit of the inning, an infield single by Jacob Howell (Fr., Ashland, Ohio/Ashland) that scored Rabin. Kinnear scored on a ground out by Caravati to pull the Buckeyes within three.
Sanders drove in Mike Mee with a single to left field. Mee boarded with a one-out double to set up the seventh run of the game.
Howell delivered the team’s 14th double of the tournament with one out in the bottom of the ninth. Glen Perkins replaced Bull on the hill and gave up a a single to right by Caravati that sent Howell to third. Perkins responded to strikeout pinch hitter Jedidiah Stephen (So., Caldwell, Ohio/Shenandoah) and then got Garrard to fly out to center to clinch the Big Ten’s automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.
Anderson, Caravati, Kinnear and Howell each had two hits for the Buckeyes as Rabin was 3-for-4. Hrncirik drove in two runs to lead four Gophers with multiple hits.
Five Buckeyes were named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team: Howell, Caravati, Bourquin, Kinnear and Jeffrey Carroll, who beat Michigan Saturday to send Ohio State to the championship round. Perkins, who closed out the game against the Buckeyes after striking out 15 batters in a two-hit victory over Purdue on Thursday, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player.
Ohio State was not extended an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Big Ten All-Tournament Team C – Derek Kinnear, Ohio State 1B – Andy Hunter, Minnesota 2B – Chris Getz, Michigan SS – Matt Fornasiere, Minnesota 3B – Ronnie Bourquin, Ohio State OF – Jacob Howell, Ohio State OF – Steve Caravati, Ohio State OF – Ryan Basham, Michigan State DH – Brandon Roberts, Michigan P – Glen Perkins, Minnesota P – Jay Gagner, Minnesota P – Jeffrey Carroll, Ohio State MOP – Glen Perkins, Minnesota