MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - All the Gophers baseball team needed was one more win to stay in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.
They did so in grand fashion in front of a packed grandstand with a 13-8 win over UCLA to earn a Super Regional berth for the first time in program history.
“I don’t know what to say, to be honest,” Gophers head coach John Anderson said. “I’m not speechless very often, but all I can say is ‘Wow.'”
“It’s something that hasn’t been done here,” Gophers shortstop Terrin Vavra added. “We’re very excited to be a part of it and it’s something that we knew we were capable of.”
To call this Minnesota’s best season in decades would definitely be accurate. “We talked all year, we’re not going to chase the prize we’re going to chase the process,” Anderson said.
The Gophers have piled up many of those prizes in 2018: a regular season Big Ten title, a conference tournament championship and a regional win all played a huge part in their success.
This outstanding year is years of work in the making, dating back to a bad stretch of the 2015 season.
“We got beat up pretty good at Northwestern in 2015 on the road and I called some of the freshmen into the room and said ‘You guys are responsible here going forward of changing our culture,'” Anderson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of a group that really walked the talk and lived up to who they said they wanted to be.”
And while they continue to celebrate their accomplishments this year, they aren't fully content yet.
Minnesota will travel to Oregon State (47-1-1) for the NCAA Super Regional to face a team that has been to the College World Series twice in the last five seasons. The Beavers are led by one of the best pitchers in college baseball, Luke Heimlich, who has an NCAA-best 15 wins on the year.
It is a challenge, but one with a chance to make even more Gophers history.
“Bring them on,” Vavra said. “We’ll go about our business, keep doing what we’ve been doing and see what happens.”