BATON ROUGE -- A two-out single in the eighth inning by Minnesota catcher Kyle Knudson broke an 8-8 tie and four hits by left fielder Justin Gominsky helped lead the Gophers to a 11-8 victory over Southern to eliminate the Jaguars in game 3 of the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional Saturday at Alex Box Stadium.
Southern (30-17) erased an 8-3 deficit with a five-run seventh inning, but couldn’t silence the Gophers in the eighth and ninth. Minnesota (38-18) will play the loser of Saturday’s LSU-Baylor contest at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday.
Minnesota was led offensively by Gominsky, who went 4-for-4 with a double, a triple and two RBI. He also scored twice. Matt Nohelty and AJ Pettersen also collected three hits apiece for the Gophers, who erupted with 18 hits.
The Gophers took a 1-0 lead in the first after lead-off hitter Matt Nohelty reached second after a single and an error by second baseman Ozzie Lamis. Nohelty scored when shortstop AJ Pettersen singled and reached second on the throw to the plate.
Pettersen reached third on a Derek McCallum sacrifice fly and scored on a single by right fielder Michael Kvasnicka to make the score 2-0.
Kvasnicka crossed the plate to give Minnesota a 3-0 lead when catcher Kyle Knudson singled to left.
Minnesota made the score 4-0 when leftfielder Justin Gominsky scored from third when Southern catcher Michael Thomas threw the ball into left field trying to pick off Gominsky.
Southern got on the board in the second when rightfielder Brad McDavid doubled off the wall and scored on a single by third baseman Gregory Whitfield to make the score 4-1.
The Jaguars made the score 4-2 when shortstop Jesse Olivar singled home Thomas. It was Southern’s third hit of the inning.
Romey Bracey entered the game at second base in the third for Southern and was hit by a pitch and scored on a single by left fielder James Armstrong to cut the deficit to 4-3.
The Gophers extended their lead to 5-3 in the fourth when Nohelty singled home Gominsky from third.
Minnesota took advantage of a one-out, bases-loaded opportunity in the seventh when centerfielder Eric Decker grounded out to first to score McCallum to increase the Gopher lead to 6-3.
The next batter, Gominsky, laced a double to deep right-center field to score Kvasnicka and Knudson to make the score 8-3. It was Gominsky’s fourth hit of the game.
Gopher starting pitcher Seth Rosin held Southern scoreless from the fourth until the sixth inning. Rosin left in the seventh after allowing four runs on seven hits while walking two and striking out seven.
Southern responded in the bottom of the frame with a single by McDavid with the bases loaded that scored Bracey and Franklin to make the score 8-5. The next batter, Edmond Morton doubled to left to score Armstrong to cut the Gopher lead to 8-6.
McDavid made the score 8-7 when he scored from third on a wild pitch by Minnesota reliever Scott Fern.
The Jaguars tied the score at 8-8 when Thomas singled to right, scoring Morton to cap the five-run seventh inning for Southern.
Minnesota regained the lead in the eighth on a two-out single by Knudson to take a 9-8 advantage.
The Gophers extended their lead in the ninth to 10-8 with a two-out single by Nohelty.
Minnesota 11, Southern 8 (May 30, 2009 at Baton Rouge, La.)
Minnesota........... 310 100 312 - 11 18 2 (39-18)
Southern............ 021 000 500 - 8 13 4 (30-17)
Pitchers: Minnesota - Seth Rosin; Luke Rasmussen(7); Scott Fern(7); Scott Matyas(8). Southern -
Jarrett Maloy; Daniel Garcia(7); James Spear(9).
Win-Scott Fern(3-1) Save-Scott Matyas(15) Loss-Daniel Garcia(4-1) T-3:19 A-9264
Actual Attendance: 2,057
Rasmussen faced 2 batters in the 7th.
SOUTHERN HEAD COACH ROGER CADOR
“Today was a hard-fought battle. If we could’ve eliminated two innings – the first and the seventh – we really would’ve been in good shape. With two strikes, we made some mistakes, and they hurt us. They fought, and fortunately for us, we were able to come back. I’m real proud of the team that they were able to come back. They didn’t give up, and they kept fighting back. We were in the position going into the eighth inning to win this ballgame, but unfortunately for us, we didn’t have the consistent pitching, and Minnesota did.”
On the miscues today...
“I chalk them up as part of the game, and keep in mind that this game isn’t being played by professionals. They’re amateurs, and when you have amateurs, they make some mistakes that are unappreciative, but as a coach you have to look beyond that and look forward because that’s really what it is. You want perfection, but you strive to get it, and it’s like reaching for air. You’re never going to get it. I take it for what it is because I understand that once it happens you can’t get it back.”
On the highlights this season...
“We had a lot of injuries, and they were able to fight through them. A lot of guys had to bond; it was a bonding process, and they had to accept some of the lesser things that occurred during the course of the year. We may have a kid with not as much ability, and they knew now that they had to depend on him to get through it. It was just something that allowed them to mend together, and I thought that was the most important thing, but as I look at it, I began to see the maturity thing takeover and the leadership from Brad McDavid and Victor Franklin. I pretty much turned over a lot of the responsibility in policing the team to them because I told them they had more to lose than anyone. If they didn’t win, then it was all over for them. Younger kids had an opportunity to come back, so I pretty much allowed them to run the show.”
On hearing players like Victor Franklin say that he taught them more in life than just baseball...
“I’ve played for coaches that didn’t do that. They just wanted to win baseball games, and I felt empty and emptiness inside of me. One day when I became a coach, I said I would never do what they did – put the game ahead of lives. I knew that the kids that I deal with are mostly inner-city kids in the beginning who needed someone to give them hope, responsibility and leadership. That’s really what I based it on. They gave me the kinds of things that I needed. I became fulfilled because now I could see development in young people who need it.”
SOUTHERN PLAYER QUOTES
1B Victor Franklin
On Southern’s regional tournament performance and its season ...
“This regional was amazing. We had two hard-fought games. We gave it our all, especially the seniors. We have been a great team all year. We came out and got the SWACC championship. Coach Cador gave us everything we needed to win, but we couldn’t pull it out today.”
On the team’s strategy late in the game ...
“We tried to go into the ninth inning 8-8, but that has been our entire season. We have one miscue and it starts a whole downfall. We were fighting though and never gave up, even in the last inning. We got on base and tried as best as we could to make this game competitive.”
C Michael Thomas
On fighting at the plate with two strikes ...
“We had to fight the whole year. He told us, with two strikes, we have to fight. I had to do what I had to do to try to get on base.”
On never giving up ...
“We knew that we had it in us to fight and come back. We knew that if we got a base runner on, we could create base runners and score runs.”
MINNESOTA HEAD COACH JOHN ANDERSON
“We didn’t play a great game. We made some mistakes out there today that haven’t been characteristic of our team. It’s always important to overcome yourself sometimes, and I felt like we did that today. I was impressed with our team when Southern put up five runs and we were able to respond in how we didn’t lose confidence and trust in each other and find a way to still win the baseball game. A lot of times teams will fall apart at that point. I was impressed with our team’s ability to stay connected to play the game and not get stuck in the past with what happened in that inning. Obviously big innings come from mistakes you make: hits, walks, errors. We didn’t do a very good job of throwing strikes and taking care of business. We got ourselves into trouble, but we won. We’re still alive and couldn’t be happier for our team. I thought a lot of our young players were out of sorts. They were excited because they haven’t been in the NCAA tournament before in the elimination game. I sensed it a little bit in our team that some of our guys were a little out of sorts and were having a hard time controlling their emotions and performing at the level we’ve seen all year. We will learn from that today and apply it tomorrow to play better baseball.”
On having to win three games to advance to Super Regionals...
“It’s going to be difficult to come up with enough pitching to win three games. It’s a nice problem to have. We’ll worry about the first game tomorrow first. We have to get through the first game because the next two aren’t going to matter if we don’t win that game. I purposely did not use (Austin) Lubinsky. He’s been our first guy out of the bullpen especially in the sixth or seventh innings. I decided if we’re going to try to stay in this thing I had to go to some other people. You have to gamble at some points in the NCAA tournament, so I decided to gamble today. Our pitching coach went home this morning to see his son graduate from high school. It was my responsibility to make the pitching decisions. I took a chance. He might have done it differently or convinced me to do it differently. I decided to save Lubinsky for tomorrow whether we need him in the first game or start him in the second game. We gambled because we had the 8-3 lead. I give Southern credit. They can swing the bats.”
On using Scott Fern at the end of the game...
“I was trying to get through the ninth inning without using him. We’re trying to save some pitchers here. We used him last night and didn’t work out well, but he came in and got a big strikeout for us... Scott (Fern) has done it all year for us. He does a tremendous job of staying present and doesn’t get too far ahead of himself. He keeps executing pitches. His body language is the same all the time. It just seems like nothing bothers him. He’s has a strong mound present out there. I think all of the players have confidence when he’s out there.”
On the crucial first inning...
“I said last night that the first inning was going to be critical, and it was. We did get some momentum in the first inning and scored some runs. We got the momentum back on this side.”
Minnesota Player Quotes
MINNESOTA LF JUSTIN GOMINSKY
On his 4-for-4 performance at the plate...
“I just tried to go out there and not do too much. I went 0-for-3 yesterday and took the same attitude out there today. I got some good pitches to hit and was able to make the most out of them.”
On getting 18 hits after being shut out Friday night vs. Baylor...
“A lot of credit has to go to Baylor for that. They pitched really well last night.”
MINNESOTA C KYLE KNUDSON
On his hit to take the lead in the eighth inning...
“It was just like any other at-bat, but just happened to be the game-winning hit. It was a 3-1 pitch. I was given the green light on 3-0, but I didn’t swing because he didn’t throw a good pitch to hit.”
On coming back and winning today after losing Friday night vs. Baylor...
“We weren’t down on ourselves at the end of the game. I actually thought we played some of our best baseball of the season; we just couldn’t hit.”