COLLEGE STATION, Texas – A 58-minute rain delay came at the right time for pitcher Ty McDevitt as the Gophers avoided elimination in the NCAA baseball regional at College Station with an 8-5 victory over Binghamton.
Minnesota had just watched its 5-0 lead evaporate forcing coach John Anderson to make the call to McDevitt with two outs in the fifth inning. The umpires made the next call, having the tarp cover the infield with rain falling and lightning in the area.
“When you are on that side of it offensively and got it rolling and had us on the run there a little bit and even though we changed pitchers, I still think momentum was on their side,” Gophers coach John Anderson said.
With Bearcats on first and third when the game resumed, McDevitt threw over to third once and then threw one pitch that Jason Agresti hit well, but directly to center fielder Dan Motl to keep the score at 5-5.
“The grounds crew did a phenomenal job getting the field ready, making sure the time I had to sit was quite limited,” McDevitt said. “I’m pretty sure if I had to sit another hour or so like can happen especially when you get the amount of rain that we got then I’m pretty sure that things would have looked a little bit different. A one-pitch out most of all gets the momentum going back to you. Getting the guy swinging as quick as possible is best in that situation.”
The Gophers then responded with Jordan Smith looping a single behind third base and Toby Hanson hugging the first base line with a triple. Alex Boswell followed with a deep fly ball to center field to score Hanson and put the Gophers ahead again.
Next Minnesota (35-21) plays Wake Forest, which lost to Texas A&M 22-2 on Saturday but beat the Gophers 5-3 on Friday, at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Smith added an insurance run in the eighth with his second homer in the regional and third this season.
“Texas is nice, I guess,” said Smith, 4-for-7 in the tournament. “Two [homers] these last two games may be a little shocker.”
After four scoreless innings, the Gophers took a 1-0 lead in the fifth on Dan Motl’s infield hit. Terrin Vavra followed with a two-run double and Matt Fielder with a one-run double. Micah Coffey’s single made it 5-0. Coffey had extended his hitting streak to a team-high 19 earlier with a double.
“Our team looked a lot more like it did for a lot of this season,” said Anderson of the Gophers who had lost six of their past seven games.
McDevitt (4-1) made more than the one important pitch. The senior righthander threw 3⅓ innings, allowing only a hit and a walk.
“Ty really picked us up huge today, saved our bullpen with his ability to get us to the ninth inning,” Anderson said. “That is going to help us [Sunday].”
The defense picked up closer Jess Jordan in the ninth. Right fielder Boxwell made a sliding catch for the first out and Vavra dove to stop a one-hopper for the second.
Jordan got a strikeout for the third — the Bearcats finish 30-25 — and his 10th save of the season.
McDevitt appreciated the defense. “Terrin’s play, obviously, Boxwell’s play in right and then some of the pickups guys had on throws,” McDevitt said. “Across the board we’ve done that all year for the most part … it’s something we’ve become accustomed to.”
And something they needed this game.