MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.  In the first of three battles between ranked teams that are tops in the Big Ten in hitting and pitching, respectively, Minnesota defeated Ohio State, 7-5, Friday at the Humbert H. Humphrey Metrodome before 821 fans.

The Golden Gophers, leading the Big Ten in ERA (4.06), opponents’ batting average (.257) and fewest walks (62), got a terrific performance from starter Chauncey Handran, who limited Ohio State to two runs on seven hits through seven innings, to improve to 15-8 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten. Handran improves to 5-1 with the win.

The Buckeyes, first in the conference in slugging (.529), hits (331), runs (242) and second in average (.340), had a season-low one extra base hit and dropped their second consecutive game to fall to 21-6 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten. It was the first time all season the team had lost consecutive games.

Alex Wimmers went 6.2 innings for the Buckeyes before he left the game during a three-run Minnesota seventh that extended the Gophers’ lead to 7-2. Wimmers gave up 10 hits while walking three and striking out 10. His record drops to 5-1 on the season.
Zach Hurley, one of three offensive leaders for the Buckeyes with thee hits and two RBI, hit his Big Ten-leading 34th RBI of the season in the third inning to give the Buckeyes a 1-0 lead. Scoring from third was Ryan Dew, who led off the inning with a single. For the game, Dew had two hits, two RBI and three runs scored. Michael Arp also had a pair of hits and an RBI for the Buckeyes. 

Minnesota charged back with three runs in its half of the third. Singles by Justin Gominsky and Matt Nohelty preceded a triple to right center by A.J. Pettersen. A Wimmers wild pitch during the next at-bat allowed Pettersen to score from third for a 3-1 Minnesota lead.

The Buckeyes came back and put two on via walks in the fourth with one down, but Handran got a strikeout and then a ridiculous play by the shortstop Pettersen to save a run and end the inning. Dew, Ohio State’s hottest hitter with 15 hits in his last 28-at bats (.538), smacked a ball up the middle that Pettersen dove for behind second base. He made a backhanded stab to grab the ball, and still completely laid out on the turf, somehow backhand-flipped the ball to second baseman Derek McCallum for the force play at second.

The Gophers manufactured a run in the sixth on a single, a sacrifice bunt, another single and a fielder’s choice to increase the lead to 4-1.

Ohio State loaded the bases with one out in the seventh on a hit batsman Dew and consecutive singles by Arp and Matt Streng. Hurley’s second single of the game, a blooper to right, scored Dew from third, but that would be the only run of the inning as Handran got an inning-ending double play to end the threat with Minnesota still leading, 4-2.  

Ohio State finally pieced together a big inning after Minnesota’s three-run seventh. Dew banged another single up the middle with two down in the eighth inning to drive in Michael Stephens and Dan Burkhart and bring the Buckeyes to within 7-4. When sure-fielding Eric Decker couldn’t grab a line drive that turned into a double by Arp, Dew scored from first to make the score 7-5 and Arp had the first extra-base hit of the game for the Buckeyes. 

The Buckeyes loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but reliever Stott Maytas got a strikeout and a flyout to end the game and earn his third save of the year.

Both teams totaled 10 hits and there were no errors. Pettersen, a red-shirt freshman, had three hits, two runs and two RBI in addition to his excellent fielding to spark the Golden Gophers.

Game Notes From Inside the Metrodome:

  • The game tonight was the first time since 1994 that Ohio State has played in the Metrodome. That year, an Ohio State team that would lead the nation in winning percentage with a 49-9 record (.845), defeated Arizona, 3-0, lost to Arizona State, 9-6, and lost to Minnesota, 14-2, while playing in the Dairy Queen Classic.
  • A fly ball lost against the gray-white Metrodome backdrop something that greatly concerns coach Bob Todd about playing in the Dome contributed to the 1994 Arizona State loss after Ohio State was leading late in the game.
  • This is the first Big Ten series between Ohio State and Minnesota in the Metrodome. Minnesota coach John Anderson has declared the Metrodome as the Gophers home facility…the reason that this series is being played indoors. 
  • This is the first time since 1999 that Ohio State and Minnesota have played when each was ranked. That year, Ohio State was No. 9 and Minnesota was No. 23 when they played in the Big Ten tournament at Columbus, Ohio.
  • Between 2002-2008, Ohio State and Minnesota met more times than any two programs in the nation: 38 times in the regular season and Big Ten tournament.
  • Ohio State has 101 extra base hits already this season (51 doubles, 17 triples and 33 home runs). Looking at 26-game statistics over the last six years, the closest any team has come to the 2009 team’s power numbers is the 78 extra base hits by the 2006 team (55 doubles 15 triples and eight home runs). Next best is the 68 by the 2005 team (50 doubles, seven triples and 11 home runs). Bottom line: the 2009 team is, so far, smacking the tar off the ball.
  • Two Big Ten Conference series did not start today and will play a nine-inning double header Saturday and one game Sunday: Northwestern at Michigan State and Penn State at Michigan.
  • Game 2 of this set will be Saturday at 3:05 p.m. with Dean Wolosiansky getting the starting nod for the Buckeyes against Minnesota RHP Tom Buske. Sunday the team’s meet at 1:15 p.m. with Eric Best taking the mound for the Buckeyes against RHP Seth Rosen for the Golden Gophers.