May 20, 2001
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Minnesota advanced in the 2001 Big Ten Tournament with a 6-5 victory over Ohio State Sunday in front of 1,277 at Bill Davis Stadium. The Golden Gophers (38-19) play Michigan at 4:05 p.m. with hopes of earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Ohio State (43-16) is eliminated from the tournament.
Minnesota is undefeated in tournament play and Michigan has one loss, meaning the Wolverines have to beat the Golden Gophers twice to claim the tournament title.
Mike Kobow (10-3) picked up the win in relief for Minnesota, firing three innings of five-hit, three-run baseball. He walked two and struck out five. Cory Cox (2-1) took the loss in relief for Ohio State.
Ohio State took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Nick Swisher led off with a double to the warning track in the left-center field gap. Swisher moved to third on a fly-out to center field and scored on a sacrifice fly to center field off the bat of Doug Deeds.
Minnesota answered with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, right fielder Jason Kennedy singled to center field. Third baseman Jack Hannahan followed with a triple to left field to plate Hannahan. Clean-up hitter Josh Holthaus hit his third home run of the tournament, driving a 1-0 offering from Goodrum over the wall in center field to put the Golden Gophers up 3-1.
Aided by a couple of Buckeye miscues in the bottom of the fifth inning, Minnesota extended the lead to 4-1. With one out, Kennedy singled to left field. OSU catcher Joe Wilkins mishandled a delivery from Goodrum, allowing Kennedy to advance to second base. Goodrum tossed a wild pitch in the dirt, putting Kennedy on third base. Hannahan followed with a line-drive double to center field to bring Kennedy home.
OSU cut into the Golden Gopher lead in the top of the sixth inning. Gagner issued walks to Swisher and Steve Caravati, setting up Deeds for another RBI opportunity. Deeds came through with his second RBI of the afternoon, driving a double to the left-center field wall to score Swisher from second base and put Caravati on third base with one out. Gagner retired the next to batters to halt the potential OSU rally.
Minnesota pushed the lead back to three runs in the bottom half of the seventh inning. Designated hitter Kurt Haring doubled down the left field line to open the half-inning and moved third base when a pick-off attempt was overthrown by Wilkins. Left fielder Scott Howard lifted a sacrifice fly to center field and Haring just beat the tag at the dish, putting Minnesota up 5-2.
OSU stormed back with three runs in the top of the eighth inning to knot the score at five. Caravati hit a one-out single to center field. Deeds followed with a single to right field. John Mayor drilled a grounder down left field line that wrapped just inside third base, allowing Caravati to score from third base.
Mike Harris then lined a single to left field to score Deeds and Mayor. The throw from left fielder Scott Howard to catcher Jeremy Bealieu beat Mayor home and it appeared Minnesota would hold on to the lead. Third base umpire Art Clendening ruled third baseman Hannahan had interfered with Mayor at third base, allowing Deeds to score the tying run.
Minnesota came right back in the bottom of the eighth. With one out, Welch singled to left field off OSU reliever Cory Cox. After Howard advanced Welch with a sacrifice bunt, Luke Appert plated the go-ahead run with a single to center field.
Jay Gagner started for the Golden Gophers. He went six innings, allowing seven hits, two earned runs with two walks and two strikeouts. Kevin Goodrum started the Buckeyes, going seven innings, giving up five hits, one earned run with one strikeout and one walk.
Ohio State head coach Bob Todd
“I was really disappointed. It magnifies the fact that if you aren’t mentally prepared to play the game, it can humble you in a hurry. When you play in a championship setting, you can’t have mental lapses.”
“There were a couple of baserunning errors. You can’t have those in a game like this. The turning point was when my line drive hit the pitcher’s hand. If that gets through, it’s two runs.”
Minnesota head coach John Anderson
“I thought it was an outstanding game. Both teams played extremely well. The excitement was diminished by one individual’s actions at the end of the game. It was a bad ending to a great ballgame. Obviously it was a very emotional game. Our kids put a lot into that game.”