Ace college pitchers to square off in Metrodome

  • Updated: March 15, 2013 - 12:33 AM

Gophers pitcher Tom Windle drew attention when he pitched a no-hitter last Friday, and he also impressed baseball scouts with his work in the Cape Cod League last spring.

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Gophers pitcher Tom Windle has a twin brother, Sam, who plays defense for the Bemidji State hockey team.

So their father, Craig, had to make a tough decision last Friday. Tom was scheduled to pitch at the Metrodome against Western Illinois, while Sam’s hockey team faced off with the Gophers in Bemidji.

Dad picked the hockey game and wound up missing history, as Tom pitched the Gophers’ first nine-inning no-hitter since 1931.

Now, it’s decision time again. On Friday night, Tom will pitch opposite Indiana State’s Sean Manaea, the nation’s No. 2 draft prospect, according to Baseball America. Meanwhile, Bemidji State opens the WCHA playoffs against the Gophers at Mariucci Arena.

“I’m guessing my dad will be at the [baseball] game on Friday and check out Sam’s game on Saturday,” Tom Windle said.

A throng of major league scouts is expected at the Metrodome, too. The college baseball season is one month old, and these two lefthanders both opened eyes in the Cape Cod League last summer.

Windle stands 6-4, and Manaea stands 6-5. Windle ranked No. 41 on Baseball America’s preseason draft list, and the no-hitter elevated his profile. For the season, Windle is 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA.

“I know he’s a really good pitcher, and I’m definitely looking forward to the matchup against him,” Manaea said.

Windle’s fastball typically sits between 90 and 92 miles per hour. He has a good slider and a developing changeup. Manaea had a similar arsenal last spring but took a big leap in the Cape Cod League, when his fastball routinely sat in the 94-96-mph range. He finished with 85 strikeouts in 52 innings and a 1.22 ERA.

“I pitched against Sean in the Cape last summer, and he’s pretty good,” Windle said. “He’s got some good stuff.”

Manaea’s first three starts all came in cold, blustery weather. Indiana State had an entire series canceled, so his last outing against Mercer came on 15 days’ rest. The Metrodome will be a welcome sight.

“I’m pumped to pitch in some good weather, or in a controlled environment, I guess,” said Manaea, who is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA.

Gophers coach John Anderson is eager to see the matchup.

“If they both pitch good, it could be a pretty quick game,” he said.

Maybe even quick enough for Windle’s dad to catch the third period at Mariucci.

Joe Christensen

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