Omaha – Righthander Reggie Meyer started looking ahead shortly after the Gophers beat Illinois 3-0 on his three-hitter late Thursday night — actually shortly past midnight — in the Big Ten baseball tournament.
“It’s a confidence boost for the whole team,” the 6-4 junior said after his first complete game in college. “Now, we have a lot of pitchers ready to go for the rest of the weekend.”
After a day off Friday, No. 11 Minnesota (39-13) will play Ohio State at 9 a.m. Saturday at T.D. Ameritrade Park for a spot in Sunday’s championship game. The Buckeyes, who lost their opener in the tournament, beat Michigan 5-3 Friday to eliminate the Wolverines.
If Ohio State beats the Gophers, who are 2-0 in tournament play, they would force a second game Saturday at 5 p.m., with the winner advancing to the final. The Gophers won two of three games from the Buckeyes in Columbus in late April.
As for the Gophers pitching situation, coach John Anderson still has Patrick Fredrickson, the Big Ten Pitcher and Freshman of the Year, to start one game this weekend. He is 8-0 with a 1.80 ERA.
Max Meyer, a freshman closer, and Brett Schulze, two other key pitchers who threw 1⅔ and 3⅔ innings, respectively, in a 3-2 victory over Michigan State on Wednesday, also should be available with two days’ rest.
Max Meyer — no relation to Reggie — has 15 saves, one shy of tying the program’s single-season record. Schulze, a middle reliever, is 9-0 with a 1.72 ERA. Anderson also has three pitchers — Nick Lackney, Sam Thoresen and Joshua Culliver — who have all started between four and nine games this season.
As for Reggie Meyer, he won’t be available for the rest of the tournament, but his second consecutive strong effort has the Gophers in a good position.
“I try not to look at the scoreboard and just pretend it’s 0-0 every inning,” said Meyer, 7-3 with a 2.75 ERA and a streak of 17 consecutive scoreless innings. “It’s kind of just [catcher Eli Wilson] and I playing catch. Towards the end of the game, I don’t try to change much.
“Our defense has been outstanding all year, so I just throw strikes and let them hit it at our defense.”
That Gophers defense turned two big double plays, one in the first inning and one in the ninth. As a result Meyer, who struck out a career-high eight and walked one, faced only 31 hitters, four over the minimum.
“I just wanted to give it my all, give my team a chance to win,” Meyer said. “That [first] double play was a big turning point in the game, set the tone early.”
Mayer was in a one-out jam in the first inning, with runners at first and third, before a double-play grounder.
In the bottom of the inning, the Gophers took a 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Eli Wilson and Cole McDevitt. The Gophers scored another run in the fifth when Luke Pettersen, who had a bunt single, scored on a groundout.
In an elimination game on Day 3:
Ohio State 5, Michigan 3: The Buckeyes (36-21) scored three runs in the sixth inning on Bo Coolen’s solo homer, Kobbie Foppe’s single and a sacrifice fly to take a 5-1 lead. Adam Niemeyer gave up one run and five hits in five innings for the win.