Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.
Email Joe to talk about the Gophers.
Red Wing native Pat Kelly hit a three-run homer during Nebraska’s six-run fourth inning, and the Cornhuskers held on for a 7-4 victory over the Gophers on Friday, eliminating Minnesota from the Big Ten Tournament.
Still needing three wins to win the tournament, third-seeded Nebraska (27-29) will play Saturday at 3:35, facing the loser of Friday night’s winner’s bracket game between Ohio State and Indiana.
The 64-team NCAA Tournament field will be announced Monday, and the Gophers (32-22) don’t expect a berth.
Fourth-seeded Minnesota finished 2-2 in the first Big Ten tourney at Target Field, including a 3-1 victory earlier Friday against Illinois.
This time, Gophers freshman Dalton Sawyer made his first collegiate start. The true freshman from Waconia, Minn., had posted a 3.09 ERA in 17 appearances, all in relief. He looked good for the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, but things unraveled quickly in the fourth.
After Chad Christensen hit a leadoff single, Sawyer made an errant pickoff throw to first, allowing the runner to reach third base.
Sawyer also mishandled a suicide squeeze bunt by Tanner Lubach, three batters before Kelly hit his home run.
Trailing 6-0, the Gophers got right to work the next half-inning. Connor Schaefbauer hit an RBI single, and then with two outs, Matt Halloran hit a three-run homer over the right-field wall.
Just like that it was 6-4.
Nebraska added an insurance run in the seventh, as Kelly doubled and scored on Christensen’s sacrifice fly.
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