EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern will host the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a three-game series at Lindenwood University, March 22-23. After one of the harshest winters in Chicagoland history, the playing surface at NU's Rocky Miller Park is not quite playable.
Friday's originally scheduled opener has been postponed; the 'Cats and Gophers will now hook up for a doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday, March 22. The series finale is slated for Sunday, March 23 at 1 p.m. All three games will be played at the Lou Brock Sports Complex and there will be free admission for all fans who wish to take in exciting Big Ten baseball.
Two Northwestern freshmen carry impressive streaks into this weekend's Big Ten series. Matt Hopfner and Joe Hoscheit each boast eight-game hitting streaks heading into play against the Gophers. The mark matches the longest streak for any NU player this season, joining Cody Stevens and Zach Jones, who both ran off eight games in a row with at least one hit between Feb. 16-March 2. Hopfner has reached base safely in all 15 games of his college career, while Hoscheit has gotten on in 11 consecutive games.
While he spends the spring on the diamond, NU sophomore Jack Mitchell spends the fall on the gridiron as a member of the Wildcats' football team. The San Diego, Calif., native is a place kicker for the 'Cats, but he has yet to see any game action. Mitchell is one of nine multi-sport athletes playing NCAA baseball this season. Another notable name on the list is 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston of Florida State. Mitchell has appeared in nine games for the Wildcats with four starts. He drove in his first run of the season last time out vs. Bucknell (3/15).
Four Northwestern position players have started all 17 games this season for head coach Paul Stevens. Infielders Zach Jones (1B) and Nick Linne (3B/2B) have been staples in the lineup, as has Cody Stevens who started the first two games at 2B and the last 15 at SS. Freshman utility man Hoscheit has started eight games in LF, five at 3B and four as the designated hitter. Hopfner has started the last 15 games in right field and Scott Heelan has made 14 starts behind the dish. Ethan Bramschreiber and Nick Friar have worked out of the bullpen eight times, while Dan Tyson has made seven appearances, including two starts.
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN GOPHERS
Minnesota enters Big Ten play with an 11-6 record and in third place in the conference standings. The Golden Gophers won four of their last five games during a West Coast swing by taking two-of-three from Sacramento State and sweeping a two-game set at St. Mary's. Minnesota is hitting .258 as a team, bolstered by redshirt junior Mark Tatera. The Eagan, Minn., native leads the team with nine extra-base hits and 18 RBI, which ranks him tied for third in the Big Ten entering the weekend. Ben Meyer has been the star of the pitching staff with a team-best 2.48 ERA and 21 strikeouts to just seven walks this year. Meyer is slated to make his sixth start of the season on Sunday.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Game 1: RHP Brandon Magallones (0-1, 4.50 ERA) vs. RHP Alec Crawford (1-1, 3.62 ERA)
Game 2: LHP Matt Portland (1-2, 4.85 ERA) vs. LHP Jordan Jess (0-2, 3.80 ERA)
Game 3: LHP Reed Mason (0-2, 6.12 ERA) vs. RHP Ben Meyer (1-1, 2.48 ERA)
For more notes and information about the series, please download the PDF at the top of the page. The Northwestern Baseball Report with head coach Paul Stevens and Greg Mroz of WNUR is also available at the top of the page.
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