Two Gopher pitchers combined for a shutout of the Fighting Illini on Saturday to finish the regular season and clinch a No. 4 seed in the upcoming Big Ten Tournament.
Junior left-hander DJ Snelten pitched eight shutout innings before closer Billy Soule pitched the last inning for the save. The win for Snelten was his fifth of the season and the save was Soule’s ninth of the year as the Gophers won, 2-0.
The Gophers scored both their runs in the bottom of the eighth as seniors Ryan Abrahamson and Kurt Schlangen recorded the RBIs. Minnesota won despite being out-hit, 7-5. Abrahamson went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run
Minnesota finished the season 30-20, 13-8 in the conference and will face Illinois again on Wednesday in the first game of the Big Ten Tournament, set to be held at Target Field. First pitch is at noon.
The Gophers were 2-5 in their final homestretch at Siebert Field, which aside from the win against Illinois, was a 4-3 victory against Nebraska on May 11.
The Fighting Illini are ranked No. 5 in the conference tournament that is scheduled from May 22-25 and May 26, if necessary. The game between the Illini and the Gophers will lead-off the tournament, which will be broadcasted on BTN.
If the Gophers win, they will face either No. 1 Indiana or No. 2 Ohio State, depending on the outcome of the second game of the day, No. 3 Nebraska and No. 6 Michigan. The tournament is double-elimination.
Minnesota’s appearance in the conference tournament is its 28th in school history — the most in the Big Ten. The Gophers also lead the conference with the most titles (9) and second-place finishes (11).
The Buckeyes are close to Minnesota’s conference records with 26 conference tournament appearances and eight conference titles.
The Gophers last won a conference title in 2010 when the tournament was held at Bill Davis Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Minnesota had not hosted a conference tournament since hosting at the Old Siebert Field for three consecutive years, from 2002-04.