BATON ROUGE, La. – Derek McCallum collected four extra-base hits and seven RBI, and No. 21 Minnesota plated 13 runs over the final three innings to defeat Baylor 15-12 in an elimination game Sunday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium.
“It was a heck of a ball game,” Minnesota head coach John Anderson said. “Everybody was trying to save pitching and try to figure out what to do next.”
Minnesota got the scoring started quickly when Pettersen reached on an error and came around to score on McCallum’s towering two-run homer in the first inning. McCallum’s blast was his 18th of the season and gave starting pitcher Chauncy Handran a 2-0 lead before he took the mound.
The Gophers had a chance to add another run when Michael Kvasnicka hit a one-out triple, but Baylor starting pitcher Jon Ringenberg got a groundout and a strikeout to strand him at third.
“I was just trying to locate pitches and I left a couple up,” Ringenberg said. “They’re a good hitting team, they take advantage of mistakes, and when I left one up they took advantage of it. After that I relaxed a little bit, and I was able to settle down and locate my pitches.”
Baylor answered with two runs of its own in the bottom half of the inning. Dustin Dickerson hit a leadoff single and Shaver Hansen walked with one out, but Handran looked like a he might escape the inning after striking out Aaron Miller for the second out. However, Dan Evatt was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Ben Booker hit a 1-2 pitch into right field for a two-run single to even the score at 2-2.
Both pitchers settled in and worked scoreless second and third frames. Ringenberg stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in the second, starting a string where he set down eight of nine batters.
Handran ran into trouble with one out in the fourth. Evatt, Ben Booker and Don Lambert hit consecutive singles, with Lambert’s single plating two runs. Gregg Glime followed with a RBI double to give Baylor a 5-2 lead after four.
“We were down 5-2 and it didn’t look like there was much hope,” Anderson said. “We knew we had to get a big inning to get back in there, and McCallum and Kvasnicka got a couple of big hits for us.”
Ringenberg continued to put up zeroes. He worked around a one-out single in the fifth and recorded two strikeouts in a hitless sixth.
Handran worked scoreless fifth and sixth innings, and both starting pitchers returned to the mound for the seventh after throwing 101 pitches each through the first six.
“My three-pitch command started to come in about the fourth or fifth inning, and after that I really settled down and got used to the weather,” said Handran.
Minnesota finally got to Ringenberg with two outs in the seventh. Pettersen singled, McCallum followed with a RBI double and Kvasnicka drilled a two-run homer to right-center field to tie the score at 5-5 and chase Ringenberg from the game.
“Jon (Ringenberg) actually got two outs more than I budgeted,” Baylor head coach Steve Smith said. “I just didn’t get out of the rest of them (the bullpen) what I hoped I would get.”
Ringenberg worked 6.2 innings and allowed five runs – four of which were earned – on nine hits with no walks and a career-high nine strikeouts. He turned the ball over to Reed Woytek, who escaped the inning without further damage.
Baylor had a chance to retake the lead when Raynor Campbell led off the seventh with a single. Campbell nearly moved to second base with no outs when a balk was called, but after Anderson came out to argue the call, it was reversed. Handran rebounded to get a pair of flyouts before Campbell was caught stealing to end the inning with the score still tied at 5-5.
Woytek struck out Eric Decker leading off the eighth, but issued a walk to Justin Gominsky and hit Kyle Geason to put a pair of runners on with one down. A new battery came on for Baylor, as Brooks Pinckard came out of the bullpen and Brooks Kimmey replaced catcher Gregg Glime, who left the game with an injury.
Matt Nohelty reached on an infield single to load the bases, and Pettersen followed with a RBI single to give the Gophers a 6-5 lead. McCallum followed with a two-run double, giving him five RBI on the day, and Kyle Knudson hit a two-run single to put the Gophers on top 10-5.
Handran retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth, striking out Hansen and Miller before getting Evatt to ground out.
The Gophers added five insurance runs in the ninth when a pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases before Pettersen brought in a run with a walk. McCallum followed with his third consecutive double, giving him seven RBI in the game. One out later, an error allowed a pair of runs to score to extend the Gophers’ lead to 15-5.
Handran went back out to start the ninth inning, but allowed a leadoff double to Booker and a RBI single to pinch hitter Drew Bias. Kimmey followed with a single, and pinch hitter Adam Hornung loaded the bases with another single, ending Handran’s day in favor of Austin Lubinsky out of the bullpen.
Handran earned the win with 8.0 innings and nine runs allowed on 11 hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Woytek took the loss with two runs allowed in 0.2 innings of relief.
Dickerson plated Bias with the Bears’ fifth consecutive hit, and pinch hitter Kenton Gedwed followed with an opposite field Grand Slam to bring the score to 15-11. It was Gedwed’s 10th pitch hit of the season.
“He’s been as good in that role as anybody we’ve ever had,” Smith said. “It’s led to getting him a couple of starts along the way, but what’s interesting is he’s never performed as well in his starts as when you give him one at-bat.”
Hansen delivered the Bears’ seventh straight hit, a single through the right side that brought Luke Rasmussen out of the bullpen.
Rasmussen got Miller and Evatt to ground out, Booker followed with a RBI single on an 0-2 pitch to cut the Minnesota lead to 15-12, but Bias grounded out to bring Baylor’s season to a close. The Bears finish the season with a 30-26 overall record.
Booker finished the game 4-for-5 with two runs and three RBI. Dickerson had the Bears’ only other multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with a pair of runs and a RBI.
“I knew we really didn’t want to go deep into our bullpen today,” Booker said. “In pregame coach (Mitch) Thompson told us to bring our bats out and score a lot of runs, so that’s what we tried to do.”
McCallum went 4-for-6 with four runs and seven RBI to lead Minnesota. Pettersen and Nohelty each had three hits, and they teamed with McCallum as the Gophers’ top three hitters in the lineup combined to go 10-for-17 with 10 runs and nine RBI.
Minnesota faces No. 3 national seed Louisiana State Sunday night at 6 p.m. in the first game of the championship round. The Gophers will need to beat LSU to force a regional championship game that would be played at 1 p.m. Monday.