Minnesota Comes Back to Defeat Penn State, 4-3; Advances into Championship Game
May 27, 2007
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - After rain suspended yesterday's consolation play with Penn State enjoying a 3-2 lead, Minnesota battled back to tie the game in the ninth and send the game into extra innings. The Gophers used a Jeremy Chlan double down the right field line to push past a run in the bottom of the eleventh to advance Minnesota to its seventh consecutive Big Ten championship game, 4-3.
Penn State enjoyed a small lead when they posted a single run in the third, but Minnesota answered in the bottom of the fourth to plate two runs of its own. Bases were loaded with no outs for Gopher second baseman Derek McCallum. McCallum sent a ball deep to right field to score Kyle Baran at third for a sacrifice fly. Two batters later, Matt Nohelty sliced a shot to left field to score another Gopher run and go ahead 2-1. Soon after, Ryan Stobart relieved PSU starting pitcher Seth Whitehill. With bases juiced, Stobart held his own cohere sing a ground out while striking out another to shut down Penn State and escape any further damage.
The Nittany Lions took back the lead with two runs in the top of the seventh before the game was delayed because of rain. Mike Deese started off the inning with a single up the middle and advanced to second when Rick Marlin squeezed a walk out of Stobart. Scott Kelley flared to left field to load the bases for sophomore Scott Field, who tied the game with a shallow ball to left field scoring Deese. Matt Cavagnaro followed with a ground out to the right side, but it was enough to score Marlin and secure the lead, 3-2, before play was suspended.
Action resumed Sunday morning and a rejuvenated Gopher team started right where they left off by coming back for a third time. Down to their last at-bats in the ninth, the Gophers were able to manufacture a run and tie the game. Kevin Carlson singled up the middle and later advanced to second on a pinch-hit sacrifice bunt by Chalan. Tyler VanderAarde moved Carlson to third on a right side groundout to set up lead-off batter Nohelty. The centerfielder sent a lazy chopper over Penn State reliever Drew O'Neil and beat the throw at first for Carlson to score and send the game into extra frames.
Again, it was fundamental baseball by the Gophers to plate the game-winning run in the eleventh. Tom Steidl began the inning with a single to right field and was sacrificed over by Carlson. Chlan, who had helped sacrifice the tying run in the ninth, proved to be the hero for Minnesota. The second baseman scored Steidl from second after doubling down the right field line for the game-winning hit.
Bill Johnson (4-0) picked up the win for the Gophers, holding the Nittany Lions scoreless in four innings of relief while allowing four hits.
Rain has currently delayed the start of the championship game at Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich.